Plautus Aulularia Religion

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Rituals and rites of the domestic cult played a central role in Roman society. Each family had their own domestic gods and guardians, each having specific roles, and all family events included prayers to the Lares and Penates. The central role of household gods and the hearth is showcased through their frequent appearances in Classical literature and poetry. For example, the role of these household deities is embodied in the prologue of Plautus’ Aulularia: That no one may wonder who I am, I shall inform you briefly. I am the household God of that family from whose house you just saw me come. For many years now I have possessed this dwelling, and preserved it for the sire and grandsire of its present occupant. Now this man's grandsire as a…show more content…
Offerings to the domestic cult included symbols of fertility and prosperity, including fresh fruit, eggs, and pinecones. As well, a portion of each meal was thrown into the hearth’s flames. The paterfamilias, the male head of the family, was responsible for maintaining the lararium, but the entire family was involved in the domestic cult, including slaves. Sacrifices were made on days significant to the paterfamilias, such as birthdays or marriage days. The hearth exemplified the essence of the household and family, “all sheltered under its roof, warmed and fed by its fire, and protected by its gods.” The domestic cult was primarily male-oriented. However, women would also make offerings to their juno, the female equivalent to the male…show more content…
The elaborate lararia were found commonly in the atrium or in other public areas of the house, intended to be seen by many people. In locating these in the atrium, guests entering and leaving the house were intended to venerate the household’s chosen deities. These structures contained statuettes of deities, likely made of wood, silver, bronze, or even ivory. Household religion was allowed a great about of flexibility and individuality that was not seen in the organized, public cult monuments. Statuettes of other deities included Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Venus, Bacchus, Hercules, and Isis. Emperor Alexander had two shrines to the Lares, which contained statuettes of Apollonius, Abraham, and Orpheus, Cicero, Virgil. Simpler lararia, such as wall paintings, can be found in the service areas or kitchens of the house, and were likely tied with food preparation. The lararia included inscriptions and dedications. A dedication on the lararium found in the House of Gaius Julius Polybius states: “Publius Cornelius Felix and Vitalis, slave of Cuspius, made a vow here to the household gods for the safety, return and victory of Gaius Iulius Philippus.” This lararium is elaborately painted, depicting the genius performing a sacrifice at an altar, with musician and attendant, and a large snake entwined around. Flanking the paterfamilias are the two Lares. Vows found at these household shrines were likely offered by freedmen or slaves,

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