In Roman mythology, the Larvae 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, theFeast 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 big eyes, noctural habits and unearthly noises they make at night. Some species of lemur were identified by their call before scientists had seen one.