World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000085466
Reproduction Date:

Title: Manes  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Februarius, Religion in ancient Rome, Di inferi, Lemuria (festival), Early Christian inscriptions
Collection: Ghosts, Roman Underworld, Undead
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In ancient Roman religion, the Manes or Di Manes are chthonic deities sometimes thought to represent souls of deceased loved ones. They were associated with the Lares, Lemures, Genii, and Di Penates as deities (di) that pertained to domestic, local, and personal cult. They belonged broadly to the category of di inferi, "those who dwell below,"[1] the undifferentiated collective of divine dead.[2] The Manes were honored during the Parentalia and Feralia in February.

The theologian Augustine, writing about the subject a few centuries after most of the Latin pagan references to such spirits, differentiated Manes from other types of Roman spirits:

Latin spells of antiquity were often addressed to the Manes.[4]


  • Etymology and inscriptions 1
  • Lapis manalis 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4

Etymology and inscriptions

Manes may be derived from "an archaic adjective manus —good— which was the opposite of immanis".[5]

The abbreviation D.M. at the top of this 3rd-century Christian tombstone stands for Diis Manibus, "to the Spirits of the Dead"

Roman tombstones often included the letters D.M., which stood for dis manibus, "for the Manes", an abbreviation that continued to appear even in Christian inscriptions.

The Manes were offered blood sacrifices. The gladiatorial games, originally held at funerals, may have been instituted in the honor of the Manes.[5] According to Cicero, the Manes could be called forth from the caves near Lake Avernus.[5]

Lapis manalis

When a new town was founded, a round hole would be dug and a stone called a lapis manalis would be placed in the foundations, representing a gate to the underworld.[5]

Due to similar names, the lapis manalis is often confused with the lapis manilis in commentaries even in antiquity:

The "flowing stone" … must not be confused with the stone of the same name which, according to Festus, was the gateway to the underworld.[6]

Bailey (1907) states:

There is, for instance, what anthropology describes as 'sympathetic magic'—the attempt to influence the powers of nature by an imitation of the process which it is desired that they should perform. Of this we have a characteristic example in the ceremony of the aquaelicium, designed to produce rain after a long drought. In classical times the ceremony consisted in a procession headed by the pontifices, which bore the sacred rain-stone from its resting-place by the Porta Capena to the Capitol, where offerings were made to the sky-deity, Iuppiter, but from the analogy of other primitive cults and the sacred title of the stone (lapis manalis), it is practically certain that the original ritual was the purely imitative process of pouring water over the stone.[7]


  1. ^ Varro, De lingua latina 6.13.
  2. ^ "Death," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 366.
  3. ^ St. Augustine of Hippo (1995). City of God. Hendrickson Publishers. p. 171.  
  4. ^ John G. Gager (15 November 1999). Curse tablets and binding spells from the ancient world. Oxford University Press US. pp. 12–.  
  5. ^ a b c d Aldington, Richard; Ames, Delano (1968) New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. Yugoslavia: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, 213.
  6. ^ Burriss, Chapter 4 (accessed: August 21, 2007)
  7. ^ Bailey, Chapter 2 (accessed: August 21, 2007)


  • Bailey, Cyril (1907). The Religion of Ancient Rome. London, UK: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd. Source: (Accessed: August 21, 2007)
  • Burriss, Eli Edward (1931). Taboo, Magic, Spirits: A Study of Primitive Elements in Roman Religion. New York, USA: Macmillan Company. Source: (Accessed: August 21, 2007)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Fair are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.