Roman household gods. They were worshiped privately as protectors of the household and also publicly as protectors of the Roman state. They were sometimes associated with other deities of the house, such as Vesta, and their name was often used interchangeably with that of the Lares. Each house had a shrine with their images, which were worshiped at the family meal and on special occasions. Offerings were portions of the regular meal or of special cakes, wine, honey, and incense. The number and precise identities of the Penates were a puzzle even to the ancients.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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