Roman fresco depicting the pair of Lares and the sacred serpent from the House of the Vettii in Pompeii. Object dated to the 1st century BCE and was located in Lararium.
The Lars are holding a riton (a drinking vessel) in their hands; and the figure in the center, with a garment on his head – probably a Genius (an ancestor’s spirit) – holds a libation platter and incense in his hand for sacrifice. The snake, in turn, symbolizes fertility.
Lares functioned in Roman culture as mysterious spirits that were responsible for various aspects of social life. The lars could look after houses (Lares Faimiliares), fields (Lares Rurales) or, for example, a city (Lares Publici).
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