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penates

penates (pənā´tēz), in Roman religion, household gods, primarily guardians of the storeroom. Theirs was the chief cult of every Roman household, especially in early times. They were worshiped in connection with the lares and, as guardians of the hearth, with Vesta. Every household was said to possess images of the penates, to whom offerings were made before each meal. Penates were also public gods, protectors of the community and state.

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penates

penates in ancient Rome, household gods worshipped in conjunction with Vesta and the lares; the name comes from Latin penus ‘provision of food’, related to penes ‘within’.

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penates

penates Ancient Roman gods of the household, worshipped at home in association with the lares (spirits of ancestors). Originally the penates were the spirits of the store room.

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penates

penates household gods of the Romans. XVI. — L. Penātēs pl., f. penus provision of food.

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penates

penatesatlantes, Cervantes •Ecclesiastes • penates • gentes •Orestes, testes, Thyestes •Achates, Euphrates •diabetes • striptease •pyrites, Stylites, troglodytes •Orontes • Boötes • Procrustes •Harpocrates, Hippocrates, Isocrates, Socrates •litotes • Surtees • Dives

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Penates

PENATES

PENATES . In the Latin world di penates (always in the plural) were spirits protecting a house or a city. The etymological connection with penus in the sense of "storing-place of the household" raises problems. The cult of the penates was associated with that of Vesta; both were linked to the hearth. During family meals offers of food were made to them and burned on the fireplace. Plautus speaks in Mercator (1.834) of the penates as "gods of the parents" (di penates meum parentum ) and distinguishes them from the lar (singular) of the household (familia ).

The penates were originally aniconic. In the late republican period images of them were put on the table. By a further development the notion of penates came to include all the gods worshiped in the household, beginning with Vesta and the lar familiaris (later also lares in general). In the first century ce Pompeii and even Jupiter, Venus, Vulcanus, and Fortuna were counted among the penates. City penates are known also outside Rome.

The peculiarity of Rome was that the penates of the city were worshiped both within the city, in a temple on the Velia not far from the Forum (on the site of the later Church of Saints Cosma and Damianus) and in the Latial city of Lavinium. According to tradition, Aeneas had brought his own penates from Troy to Lavinium. The penates had refused to move to Alba Longa when it was founded by Aeneas's son Ascanius. Toward the end of the fourth century bce, the Greek historian Timaeus was told that the penates of Lavinium were aniconic objects. As soon as they were elected, Roman consuls, dictators, and praetors went to Lavinium to make sacrifices to them. Respect was still paid by Roman emperors to the Lavinium penates.

The aniconic penates worshiped on the Velia acquired human features in the late republic and were often identified with the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux), an identification apparently repudiated by Varro (De lingua Latina 5.58). It is doubtful whether the penates preserved at Lavinium were at any time identified with the Dioscuri. According to Tacitus (Annals 15.41.1), penates of the Roman people were also preserved in the temple of Vesta on the Palatine, but this is an obscure piece of information. Equally problematic is the mention of a "priest of the di penates " (sacerdos deum penatium ) in two inscriptions of Rome (Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum, Berlin, 1863, vol. 6, no. 7283).

Bibliography

Alföldi, András. Early Rome and the Latins. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1965. See pages 258271.

Latte, Kurt. Römische Religionsgeschichte. Munich, 1960. See pages 89 and 416.

Radke, Gerhard. Die Götter Altitaliens. Münster, 1965. See pages 247252.

Radke, Gerhard. "Die di penates und Vesta im Rom." In Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, vol. 2.17.1, pp. 343373. Berlin and New York, 1981. Includes bibliography.

Weinstock, Stanley. "Penates." In Real-Encyclopädia der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 19, cols. 417447. Stuttgart, 1937.

New Sources

Dubourdieu, Annie. Les origines et le développement du culte des Pénates à Rome. Paris, 1989.

Palombi, Domenico. "Aedes Deum Penatium in Velia. Note di topografia e storia." Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Römische Abteilung 104 (1997): 435463.

Poucet, Jacques. "Troie, Lavinium, Rome et les Pénates." Antiquté Classique 61 (1992): 260267.

Arnaldo Momigliano (1987)

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