By Dr Joanne Berry
Last updated 2011-02-17
Lararia are shrines to the gods of the household, and are found in different shapes and forms in many Pompeian houses, ranging from simple wall-paintings to large and elaborate shrines.
Here, the lararium imitates the form of a temple. Columns support a pediment, and frame a central painting. Two dancing lares (guardians of the family, who protect the household from external threats) hold raised drinking horns. They are positioned on either side of the genius (who represents the spirit of the male head of the household), who is dressed in a toga and making a sacrifice.
Beneath them all is a serpent. Snakes are often depicted in lararia, and were considered guardian spirits of the family.
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