3.9 Genius and Lar

The concept of the Genius paterfamilias, the divine incarnation of the head of the household, was an important part of Roman religion, but only 18 figurines have been found in Britain. He is most often depicted as a standing, fully draped male holding a scroll in his left hand and a patera in the right (331). Another form shows him draped across the left shoulder and lower body, again holding a patera in his right hand, but this time a cornucopia in his left (280). As one might expect of a deity representing such a Roman ideal, these figurines are highly classical in style, but there are several cruder examples from Earith, Cambridgeshire (675), and Badbury, Wiltshire (862), which indicate local production.

The Genius cucullatus, a god of healing, fertility, and the underworld, appears in a number of stone carvings in Britain, but only two copper-alloy examples from Buntingford, Hertfordshire (1187), and Coningsby, Lincolnshire (967), have been found. Figurine 1187, like many depictions of cucullati in stone, stands fully covered in a hooded cloak. A similarly cloaked figure comes from Vaison, France (Rolland 1965, no. 109). Cucullatus 967 also wears a hooded cloak, but this time it only extends to the knees. He stands with his left hand raised to his mouth and right hand across the chest to hold the left elbow. Metal examples of figures wearing short cloaks are also found on the Continent in Germany (Menzel 1966, nos 86 and 87).

The Lares were another class of Roman deity who would have embodied a concept new to the people of Britain. The Lares were guardians of crossroads, roads and travellers and the household. They are youthful figures, dressed in a short tunic, most often holding a patera in the right hand and a cornucopia in the left (107 and 110). Again the majority of depictions are classical in style, but include cruder, local examples such as that from Ely, Cambridgeshire (108). A very similar figure with a wide face and no neck, but holding his attributes in opposite hands, comes from Kaiseraugst (Kaufmann-Heinimann 1994, 36, Taf. 31 no. 32).


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