lares (lârˈēz) [key], in Roman religion, guardian spirits. According to some they were ghosts of the dead, destructive spirits who frequented crossroads and had to be propitiated. Others say that the lares were farm deities, worshiped as fertility powers of the earth. The most common myth, however, identifies them as household gods, beneficent spirits of ancestors, worshiped in close connection with the penates.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on lares from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient Religion