Lemurès the general designation given by the Romans to all spirits of departed persons, of whom the good were honored as Lares (q.v.), and the bad (Larvae) were feared, as ghosts or spectres still are by the superstitious. The common idea was that the Lemures and Larve were the same, and were said to wander about during the night, seeking for an opportunity of inflicting injury on the living (Horat. Epist. 2:2, 209; Pers.v. 185). The festival called Lemurias was held on the 9th, 11th, and 13th of May, and was accompanied with ceremonies of washing hands, throwing black beans over the head, etc., and the pronunciation nine times of these words: "Begone, you spectres of the house!" which deprived the Lemures of their power to harm. Ovid describes the Lemuria in the fifth book of his Fasti. See De Deo Sacr. p. 237, ed. Bip.; Servius, ad AEn. 3:63; Varro, ap. Nov. p. 135; comp. Hartung, Die Religion der Römer. 1:55, etc.; Smith, Dict. of Greek and Rom. Biog. and Myth. vol. 2, s.v.; Chambers, Cyclop. s.v.

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