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In Roman religion, guardian deities. Originally gods of cultivated fields, Lares were later worshiped in association with the Penates, the gods of the household. The household Lar, considered the centre of the family cult, was often represented as a youthful figure holding a drinking horn and cup. Two Lares might be portrayed standing on either side of Vesta or some other deity. A prayer was said to the Lar or Lares every morning, and offerings were made at family festivals. Public Lares presided over local districts marked by a crossroads; state Lares (praestites), guardians of Rome, were worshiped in a temple on the Via Sacra.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Lares, visit Britannica.com.