Prayers to Lares, Penates and Manes

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Corpus Inscriptiones Latinae VI 18817

Whole-heartedly I pray to you, most holy Manes, may you admit my dear husband among you, and, may you want to be most indulging in this, that in the hours of the night I may see him and also be advised by him on what to do, in order that I may be able to swiftly and sweetly come stand by his side. {{{2}}}: VI 18817 (EN DE)

Arnobius Adversus Nationes III 43

Come, Dii Penates, come Apollo and Neptune and all You Gods, and by Your powers may You mercifully turn aside this ill disease that violently twists, scorches and burns our city with fever.

Cato De Agricultura 139

This prayer is probably to be understood as directed toward the Lares Rurales (Lares of the fields) or custodes agri (guardians of the fields), probably the most ancient form of Lar.

A ritual before clearing a grove or tilling land

Since the Romans believed that every piece of land had its own deities, or genii, and that each tree had its own guardian spirit which dwelt within it, it was not considered proper either to disturb land or to cut down trees without sacrificing first to the gods who lived within them.

Cato gives two versions of this ritual; one to be performed when pruning a grove, and one when digging land. The two rituals are exactly the same, except that Cato suggests adding the words "for the cause of carrying out the work" when digging the land. These words seem grammatically designed to replace the words "for the pruning of this sacred place" in the original prayer, and Cato probably intended a substitution of one phrase for the other, according to which was most suitable, rather than a simple addition of extra words onto the end of the prayer. This ritual could be used in a modern garden, before carrying out jobs such as pruning, mowing or planting.

Latin English
Lucum conlucare Romano more sic oportet. It is proper to open out a grove in this way, according to the Roman manner.
Porco piaculo facito, sic verba concipito: "Si deus, si dea es, quoium illud sacrum est, uti tibi ius est porco piaculo facere illiusce sacri coercendi ergo harumque rerum ergo, sive ego sive quis issu meo fecerit, uti id recte factum siet, eius rei ergo te hoc porco piaculo inmolando bonas preces precor, uti sies volens propitius mihi domo familaeque meae liberisque meis; harumce rerum ergo macte hoc porco piaculo inmolando esto." Offer for atonement a pig, recite words thus: "Be you god or be you goddess, to whom this place is sacred, as it is right to offer for atonement to you a pig for the pruning of this sacred place, on account of these and on account of these things, whether I or whether one ordered by me offered it, in order that it may have been done rightly, for the sake of this thing I pray good prayers to you for the sacrificing of this pig for atonement, that you may be favourable and gracious to me, to my family and house, to my children; for the sake of these things be honoured by the sacrificing of the pig for atonement."
Si fodere voles, altero piaculo eodem modo facito, hoc amplius dicito: "operis faciundi causa." If you wish to dig, offer in the same manner for another atonement, say this in addition: "for the cause of carrying out the work."
Dum opus, cotidie per partes facito. During the work, offer every day over some area.
Si intermiseris aut feriae publicae aut familiares intercesserint, altero piaculo facito. If you will break off, or public or family festivals will interfere, offer for another atonement.

Ennius Annales 1 fr. 141

And you Lares, care for our house that you established.

Lucan Pharsalia 9.990

Gods of the cremated dead, who dwell within the ruins of Troy, and Lares of my Aeneas who now reside in the temples of Lavinium and Alba, where among their altars the fires of Troy still shine, and You, Pallas, whose pledge of safety was given with the Palladium, upon which no man may look, sheltered deep within Her shrine, look upon me, the most renowned descendent of your family. Piously I place incense upon Your ancient altars and rightly invoke You. Grant me success and happiness in all that follows and I shall restore Your people. In thanks shall the Italians restore Your Phrygian walls and a new Roman Troy arise!

Ovid Fasti 5.435-7

After he has cleansed his hands with pure fountain water, he takes up the black beans in his mouth and turns, casting them back over his shoulder as he says, "This I send to you, Manes, with these beans I redeem me and mine." When nine times he has says this, then he says, "Manes of my forefathers, leave this place." He looks back, the rite of purification he thinks completed.


Plautus: Mercator 834-35

Divine Penates of our ancestors, to you I commend the good fortune of my parents, and to you, Spiritual Father of our family, that you safeguard them well.

Plautus: Mercator 865

Lares of the roadside, I call upon you to kindly protect me.

Plautus: Poenulus 950-3

To you gods and goddesses who cherish this city, reverently I pray that the reason for my coming here may have a happy outcome. May the Gods keep faith.

deos deasque veneror, qui hanc urbem colunt, ut quod de mea re huc veni rite venerim, measque hic ut gnatas et mei fratris filium reperire me siritis, di vostram fidem. [Plautus' "Poenulus" at The Latin Library]

Plautus: Trinummus 39-41:

I adorn our Lar with a garland, so that we and our house may have good fortune, happiness and prosperity.

Larem corona nostrum decorari volo. uxor, venerare ut nobis haec habitatio bona fausta felix fortunataque evenat Plautus' "Trinummus" in The Latin Library

Seneca Octavia 245

Rise up, Father, come forth from the gloomy shades and aid your daughter who calls to you, or else cleave open the earth to its Stygian depths, and at last let me plunge into its refuge.

Silius Italicus Punica 6.113

I swear by the Manes, spirits of my ancestors, whom I fitly worship.

Sulpicia 4.5.9

Grant, O natal Genius, all my heart's desires, and expensive incense I shall burn upon your altar.

Tibullus 1.1.19-24

Lares, and you gods also, who earlier made our household fruitful and fortunate, may you guard and bless the little that remains today on our farm. Lares, accept what your kindred present to you. For you a lamb shall be offered when around your altar you'll hear rustic boys shouting, "Io! Give us fine harvests and fruitful vines!"

Tibullus 1.10.15-25

Lares, gods of my fathers, preserve me! While young and still nursing, you guided me when I played at your feet. Let none profane your antique images: rough-hewn wooden statues set upon altars of upturned sod then dwelled among our grandfathers. In those days humble reverence provided you with sweet honey alone, you stayed in meager shrines made of twigs, in tattered robes the gods were pleased with offerings of grapes and wreathes of wheat set upon carved heads. Granted his wish, a man would bring you honey cakes and set his virgin daughters to attend your little shrines. Lares, turn away from us those who scheme against us with their bronze weapons.

Tibullus 2.2.1-9

Speak no ill words today, good men and women, as we honor our friend on his birthday. Burn frankincense, burn fragrant herbs from lands at the very ends of the earth, even those sent from Arabia. His own spirit comes to receive his honors, a holy wreath to crown his soft crown of hair. This pure nard distilled for his temples and, sated on wine and honey cakes, he gives his assent. And to you, Cornutus, may everything you wish for be granted.

Tibullus 3.4.1-2; 3-4; 95-6

O gods, may you bring better dreams than this evil vision that has awakened me from a peaceful sleep; let it not be a prophetic vision. Cast far away from me this vain and false vision, and cease plucking our intestines with your zealous inquiries. Gods, turn this cruel dream to good, as night into day, and bid the warm South wind to carry it away.

Valerius Flaccus Argonautica 3.448-55

Leave us, you ghosts of the slain, forget those angry memories and vengeful thoughts. Let peace come between us. May you grow to love your Stygian resting-place, far from our crew and far from the seas we travel, and may you stay far from the battles we engage. At no time haunt our cities back home in Greece or at the crossroads howl. Do no harm to our pigs and cattle, bring no pestilence to our herds or crops. Do not woefully assail our people or our children.

Valerius Flaccus Argonautica 4.674-75

Whosoever You may be among the Gods, I shall follow wherever You may lead, in faithful trust that You do not deceive.

Valerius Flaccus Argonautica 5.51-53

O Holy Ghost, I pray that you may come to us in the semblance of a guiding spirit with foreknowledge of impending storms and advising our helmsman on the course he must follow.

Valerius Flaccus Argonautica 5.192-209

Bearing sacramental wine in a heavy bowl he approaches the tomb and its altar and pours out the libation, addressing the ghosts of the dead. "Phrixus, hear me, your kinsman. I pray you be my guide in this enterprise. Protect us and help us now that we have reached this land, having survived the perils of the trackless seas we have crossed. Remember your countrymen in kindness, and favor your kinsfolk. And You, too, my Lady, at whose empty tomb I stand, a goddess now of the sea, be gracious to us and help us now and on our return when we venture again on your waves. When shall that golden fleece sail again past Sestus, perhaps to recognize that unfortunate stretch of water? And You, O woods and shores of Colchis, welcome us now and lead us to that sacred tree where the glittering fleece hangs. And you, O Phasis, child of potent Jove, accept and allow Minerva's vessel to travel between your banks on your tranquil current. Appropriate gifts I promise at shrines that I shall erect in your honour when I get home - statues commanding the reverence we pay to the Enipeus or the Inachus whose god lolls in his golden cave."

Valerius Flaccus Argonautica 6.288-91

Holy Father, give me the strength and courage to try to do you credit so that I may teach my children those lessons you once taught to me.

Virgil Georgics 1.498-501

Gods of our Fathers, Indigetes, heroes native to this land, Romulus and Mother Vesta, who preserve Etruscan Tiber and Roman Palatine, in this at least do not prohibit, a young savior come to the aid of a generation decimated by war.

Virgil Aeneid 2.701-4

Any moment now, without delay, I follow, and wherever You lead, there shall I be. Gods of my fathers, preserve my house, save my grandchildren. Yours this augury, and yours the holy powers in Troy.

Virgil Aeneid 4.576-79

We follow you, Holy One of the Gods, whoever you may be, and once again joyfully obey your command. Come, O Gentle One, and with favoring stars in the heavens, lend us your aid.

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