"Ghost, Specter." In Roman belief the Larvae, in contrast to the Lares (the good spirits of the departed), were the souls of dead persons who could find no rest, either owing to their own guilt, or from having met with some indignity, such as a violent death. They were supposed to wander abroad in the form of dreadful spectres, skeletons, etc., and especially to strike the living with madness. Similar spectres of the night are the Lemures. To expel them from the house, peculiar expiatory rites were held on three days of the year, the 9th, 11th, and 13th of May, the Lemuria, when all the temples were closed, and marriages avoided.

According to Suetonius, the Larva or ghost of Caligula was often seen in his palace.



  • Peck, Harry Thurston. (1898). Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities.
  • Plautus. Captivi iii, 4, 66.

This article incorporates text from Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898) by Harry Thurston Peck, which is in the public domain.