The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden: Religion at the Roman Street Corner

The Dancing Lares & the Serpent in the Garden by FlowerAuthor: Harriet Flower, the Andrew Fleming West Professor in Classics

Publisher: Princeton University Press, September 2017

The most pervasive gods in ancient Rome had no traditional mythology attached to them, nor was their worship organized by elites. Throughout the Roman world, neighborhood street corners, farm boundaries and household hearths featured small shrines to the beloved lares, a pair of cheerful little dancing gods. These shrines were maintained primarily by ordinary Romans, and often by slaves and freedmen, for whom the lares’ cult provided a unique public leadership role. In this comprehensive and richly illustrated book, the first to focus on the lares, Harriet Flower offers a strikingly original account of these gods and a new way of understanding the lived experience of everyday Roman religion.

A reconsideration of seemingly humble gods that were central to the religious world of the Romans, this is also the first major account of the full range of lares worship in the homes, neighborhoods and temples of ancient Rome.

Text and book cover courtesy of the publisher