What does the expression “lares and penates” mean and Where does it come from?

The familiar things, the cherished possessions, the appearance, the indescribable atmosphere which combine to make a house a home.

Actually, this phrase combines two groups of Roman gods, though rhinor gods, to be sure.

The lares (two syllables, please, lar’eez) were divinities presiding over the hearth and the whole house, representing the spirits, not of all the ancestral dead lords of the house, but only of good men.

The penates (three syllables, pe-nah’teez) were the protectors and promoters of happiness, peace, and concord in the family.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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