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|Practices and beliefs|
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," the undifferentiated collective of divine dead. 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:
For, however wicked men have been, if they suppose they shall become Larvae or divine Manes, they will become the worse the more love they have for inflicting injury; for, as the Larvae are hurtful demons made out of wicked men, these men must suppose that after death they will be invoked with sacrifices and divine honors that they may inflict injuries. But this question we must not pursue. He also states that the blessed are called in Greek eudaimones, because they are good souls, that is to say, good demons, confirming his opinion that the souls of men are demons."
— City of God, Book IX, Chapter 11
Latin spells of antiquity were often addressed to the Manes.
Manes may be derived from "an archaic adjective manus —good— which was the opposite of immanis".
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. According to Cicero, the Manes could be called forth from the caves near Lake Avernus.
Due to similar names, the lapis manalis is often confused with the lapis manilis in commentaries even in antiquity:
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.