Manes, the chthonic deities in ancient Roman religion

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The Manes or Di Manes are chthonic deities in ancient Roman religion who are often supposed to symbolize the spirits of departed loved ones.

They were connected to the Lares, Lemures, Genii, and Di Penates as domestic, local, and personal worship deities (di). They belonged to the undifferentiated collective of the holy dead known as di inferi, or “those who dwell below.” The Parentalia and Feralia in February included a tribute to The Manes.

Ancient Latin spells frequently referred to the Manes in their addresses.

Related article: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Rome

“An antique adjective manus—good—which was the opposite of immanis (monstrous)” may be the source of manes.

Dis Manibus, which stands for “to the Manes” or, more figuratively, “to the spirits of the dead,” was a common shorthand seen on Roman tombstones. It continued to be used in Christian inscriptions.

Blood sacrifices were proposed to the Manes. It’s possible that the gladiatorial contests, which were first staged at funerals, were started in the Manes’ honor. Cicero claimed that the caverns close to Lake Avernus may be used to summon the Manes. When a new town was established, a circular hole would be dug, and the foundations would be laid with a lapis manalis stone, which stood in for a portal to the underworld.

Featured image: “To the gods Varia Clymen made this urn for her well deserving husband M(arcus) Cartimus Dextrus and for herself. He lived 32 years, 6 months, 24 days. He lived 20 years with her”. D(IS) M(ANIBVS) M(ARCO) CARTIMO DEXTRO VARIA CLVMEN CONIVGI B(ENE) M(ERENTI) FEC ET SIBI VIX(IT) AN (NIS) XXXII MENS(IBVS) VI DIEB(VS) XXIIII CVM QVA VIX(IT) AN(NIS) XX

Last Updated on 2022/10/11


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