“Lares: Household gods of the ancient Romans, usually referred to in the singular (lar), there being one lar to a household. The lares were protective, and were usually deified ancestors or heroes. The lars familiaris was the spirit of the founder of the house who, never leaving, accompanied his descendants in all their changes. See PENATES.”
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.