By: Ethan Ifkovits

In today’s terms, Manes would be defined as being a ghost or shade. A ghost is, defined by, the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons. In Ancient Rome, there was three main types of ghosts/shades; Manes, Lares, and Lemures. In existing literature, the three types have distinctive natures. Manes are typically described as being the most pure and at the top of the caste system. Lares are described to be in the middle but more towards the higher side of the caste system. The Lemures are described as being completely evil. Manes, though being on the positive side of the spectrum, are still known for being antagonistic. Manes, along with the other types of ghosts/shades, disturbed the dead in the Underworld. In Ancient Rome, ghosts/shades were honored during festivals.


A main festival in Ancient Rome for honoring the ghosts/shades was called Lemuria. This festival was created by Romulus in order to praise his dead brother, Remus. A second festival for the ghosts/shades was called Parentalia. This festival was for honoring your deceased ancestors. The Romans participated in the festivals primarily for their own good. They attended so the ghosts/shades wouldn’t harass them.

Reference in Ancient Rome:
On most Roman tombstones, the acronym DM is included. DM stands for dis manibus in Latin. This phrase translates into English as “for the Manes”.


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