Mater Larum, Mother of the Lares, Mania

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Numerous minor Roman deities have been linked to the Mother of the Lares.

In the Arval Brethren’s archives, she appears twice as Mater Larum and a few more times as Mania and Larunda. She is referred to by Ovid as Tacita, Muta, and Lara (the silent one). The incomplete Arval rituals to the goddess of fruitfulness, Dea Dia, reveal the cult to Matres Larum. The Arvals refer to Dia as Juno Dea Dia, associating her with the highest form of female.

She is referred to as Mania by Varro (116 BC–27 BC), who claims that she and her offspring were originally Sabine. Later Roman authors adopted the word to refer to a “evil spirit” in general. Festus claims that nursemaids began frightening youngsters with the term Mania in the latter half of the second century AD. It is used by Macrobius to refer to the woolen statues (maniae) placed at crossroads shrines during Compitalia, which are supposed to be replacements for the human sacrifices that were originally performed during the same festival but were outlawed by L. Junius Brutus, Rome’s first consul.

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