Lemures, also called larvae are characters from Roman mythology. People who died unnaturally and violently or are not buried properly become restless spirits. Lemures are shades of the wandering, malevolent, vagrant and restless spirits.
They can be vengeful. Vengeful spirit of the deceased person returns from the afterlife to get revenge, terrify and torment because of unnatural death or not a proper funeral. They are trapped between the underworld and living world. Some of them could not find the underworld and were forever lost.
There were types of lemures based on their action. Lemures vmbrae mortuorum were spirits that haunt people they knew, relatives and friends and cause them injury. Lemures Spectra were spirits that haunted houses in horrible forms. In some versions souls of good men became Lares and souls of a wicked became Larvae.
Lemures are presented as darkness, spirit’s fear, formless shades, terrifying and grotesque appearances. They are fearful, fearsome and wicked spirits.
To prevent a meeting with lemures, there was a ritual. Paterfamilias, the head of the family, got up in the night and throw black beans behind him not looking behind. It was believed that lemures eat a black bean. Paterfamilias went outside the door making signs with his hands, washed his hands in spring water, turned around, took black beans into his mouth and later threw them behind him. Then he spoke to the spirits nine times telling them to be gone. Then he was allowed to look around. These ceremonies were performed on the three nights of the 9th, 11th and 13th of May every year. These days were considered bad and temples were closed. If the spirit was satisfied with the offering the house was safe, but if lemure was dissatisfied it would make a loud noise.
The opposite to lemures were manes, spirits of the dead who were benevolent. Manes still enjoyed drinking blood, so Romans offered them animal sacrifices.
Lemur animal got name inspired by lemures because they are slow and active at night. Maybe they got their name because of reflective eyes, ghostly cries and ghostly look.