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THERE is a river in hell called Lethe, afrom the forgetfulness it causes. For if any body drinks this water, he immediately forgets all things past; so that when the souls of the flious have spent many ages in the Elysian fields, bthey drink the water of Lethe, and are believed to pass into new bodies, and return into the world again: and it is necessary they should forget both the pleasures they have received in Elysium, and the miseries they did formerly endure in this life, that they may willingly return into this miserable life again. These souls went out from Elysium by that ivory gate, which you see painted in the lower part of this wall: and, if you please, we will go through this gate, and leave these infernal regions, to view more beautiful, though not less ridiculous, images of the other gods.
P. I will attend you with pleasure.
* Arè ro, Aong, ab oblivione.
b Jinimae, quibus altera fato Corpora debentur, Lethaei ad fluminis undam ... Securos latices et longa oblivia potamt. Virg. Æn, 6.
Souls that by fate
Are doom'd to take new shapes, at Lethe's brink
Quaff draughts secure and long oblivion drink.
M. NOW, Palaeophilus, let us view the fifth division of this Fabulous Pantheon, in which the inferior or subordinate gods are contained: the Latins generally called them Dii Minorum Gentium, and sometimes Semones, Minuti, Plebeii, and Patellarii.
P. Those deities appear to be painted without confusion, in very good order, and very distinctly.
M. They are so ; and if we consider how infinite the number of them was, it is plain, that the Romans had almost as many gods as there are things. And indeed, how great is the number of gods who preside over inconsiderable things, since there are three gods to keep one door; first, the god Ferculus looks after the door, the goddess Cardua after the hinges, and Limentius after the threshold. I shall only briefly speak of those who assist, or in any wise preserve men from their irth to their death,
The Penates are so called from the Latinwordshemus, which word, "Cicero says, includes every thing that men eat. Or else they have this name from the place allotted to them in the heavens, "because they are placed in the most inward and private parts of the heavens where they reign; hence they call them Penetrales,and the place of their abode Penetrale. They entirely govern us by their reason, their heat, and their spirit, so that we can neither live, nor use our understanding without them; yet we know neither the number nor names of them. The ancient Hetrusci called them Consentes and Comfilices ; supposing that they are Jupiter’s counsellors, and the chief of the gods: and many reckon Jupiter himself, together with Juno and Minerva, among the Penates. But I will give you a more distinct and particular information in this matter.
There were three orders of the Dii Pemates : 1. Those who governed “kingdoms and provinces, and were absolutely and solely called Penates. 2. Those who presided over cities only ; and these were called the "gods of the country, or the great gods : AEneas makes mention of them in “Virgil. 3. Those who presided over particular houses and families, and these were called the fsmall gods. The poets make frequent mention of them, especially Virgil, who in one place mentions fifty maid servants, whose business it was to look after their affairs, and sto offer sacrifices to the household gods: and in hanother place he speaks of these household gods being stained and defiled by the blood of one that was killed by his brother. But it must likewise be observed,
a Est enim penus omne quo vescuntur homines. De. Nat. Deor. b Quod penitus insideant, ex quo Penetrales à Poetis vocantur, et locus in quo servabantur eorum effigies Penetrale dictus. Varro ap. Arnob. l. 3, e Virg. Hen. 1. 5. d Dii Patrii Siol warpaio. Macrob. 3. Saturn. 14. Plut 4. Symp. 1. * Tu, genitor, cape sacra manu, patriosque Penates. Hon. 2.
\ Our country gods, the reliques and the bands, - Hold you, my father, in thier guiltless hands o t Parvique Penates. Virg, REn. 8. , 8 Flammis adolere Penates, AEn. 1, h Sparsos fraterna code Penates. En, 4. Z
that among the Latins, the word Penates not only signifies the gods, of which we have been speaking, but likewise signifies a dwelling-house, of which we have instances in many authors, and among the rest, in * Virgil, "Cicero, and “Fabius.
dTimaeus, and from him Dionysius, says, that these Penates had no proper shape or figure; but were wooden or brazen rods, shaped somewhat like trumpets. But it is also thought by others, that they had the shape of young men with spears, which they held apart from another.
THE Lares were children born from the stolen embraces of Mercury and the nymph Lara ; for when, by her prating,she had discovered some of Jufiiter’s amours, he was so enraged that he cut out her tongue, and banished her to the Stygian lake. Mercury, who was appointed to conduct her thither, ravished her upon the road. “She grew big with child, and in due time brought forth twins, and named them Lares.
They were made domestic gods, and accordingly presided over ‘houses, streets, and ways. On this account they were worshipped in the roads and open streets, called comfita in Latin, whence the games celebrated . in their honour were called hComfitalitii, Comfitalitia, and sometimes Comfitalia. When these sports were ex
* Nostris succede penatibus hospes. Æn. 8. b Exterminare
aliquem à suis Diis Penatibus. Pro Sexto. . c Liberospellere domo, ac prohibere Penatibus. Dec. 260. d Lib. 1. e Fitgue gravis Geminosque parit qui compita servant,
Et vigilant nostra semper in aede Lares. Ovid. Fast. 2.
Her twins the Lares call’d. 'Tis by their care Our houses, roads, and streets in safety are. f Martial. l. 3. ep. 57. & Arnob. 2, h Varro de Renistică ; et 5. de Ling. Lat.
ercised, "the images of men and women, made of wool, were hung in the streets; and so many balls made of wool as there were servants in the family, and so many complete images as there were children. The meaning of which custom was this: These feasts were dedicated to the Lares, who were esteemed infernal gods; the people desiring by this, that these gods would be contented with those woollen images, and spare the persons represented by them. The Roman youths used to wear a golden ornament, called bulla, about their necks; it was made in the shape of a heart, and hollow within : this they wore till they were fourteen years of age, then they put it off, and, hanging it up, consecrated it to the Lares ; as we learn from bf’ersius. These Lares sometimes cwere clothed in the skins of dogs, and "sometimes fashioned in the shape of dogs; whence that creature was consecrated to them. The place in which the Lares were worshipped, was called Lararium ; and in the sacrifices offered to them, “the first fruits of the year, wine and incense were brought to their altars, and their images adorned with chaplets and garlands. *The beginning of which worship came hence; that anciently the dead, "who were buried at home, were worshipped as gods, and called Lares. And besides, we find in "Pliny, that they sacrificed with wine and incense, to the images of the emperors while they yet lived.
* Festus apud Lil. Gyr. b Bullaque succinctis Laribus donata pependit. When fourteen years are past, the Bulla's laid Aside, an offering to the Lares made. * Plutarch. in Prob. * Plautus. * Tibullus, l. 1. * Plau. in prol. Aul. g Juvenal, sat. 9, 12. h Arnob. 5. ex War. i Epist. 1, 10.