In Roman mythology, the larvae or lemures (singular lemur) were the spectres or spirits of the dead; they were the malignant version of the lares. Some Roman writers describe lemures as the common name for all the spirits of the dead, and divide them into two classes: the lares, or the benevolent souls of the family, which haunted and guarded the domus or household, and the larvae, or the restless and fearful souls of wicked men. But the more common idea was that the Lemures and Larvae were the same. They were said to wander about at night and to torment and frighten the living.
On May 9, 11, and 13, the Lemuralia or Lemuria, the feast of the Lemures, occurred, when black beans were offered to the Larvae in the hopes of propitiating them; loud noises were also used to frighten them away.
Lemurs were so named by Linnaeus for their large eyes, nocturnal habits and unearthly noises they make at night. Some species of lemur were identified by their calls before scientists had seen individuals. Linnaeus also coined the modern use of the word 'larva' to denote the caterpillar stage in the life cycle of insects.
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