E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The Etruscan lar (lord or hero). Among the Romans lars were either domestic or public. Domestic lares were the souls of virtuous ancestors exalted to the rank of protectors. Public lares were the protectors of roads and streets. Domestic lares were images, like dogs, set behind the hall door, or in the lararium or shrine. Wicked souls became lemurs or ghosts that made night hideous. Penats were the natural powers personified, and their office was to bring wealth and plenty, rather than to protect and avert danger. (See FAIRY.)