Oil lamp with the image of Eros

A Roman oil lamp of the type named Volute lamp for the symmetrical bordering on either side of the wig hole. The central discus is decorated with a scene in high relief, showing the figure of the god Eros holding a palm branch.

Eros was one of the primordial gods of Ancient Greece. He was the god of sexual attraction and love and also worshipped as the god of fertility. In some myths he was the son of Aphrodite and Ares, but according to Plato’s The Banquet, he was conceived by Poros (plenty) and Penia (poverty) on the occasion of the birthday of Aphrodite. This explained the different aspects of love.

Ancient Roman lamps were small utensils, normally made from terracotta, which were used by the ancient Romans to provide artificial light. They were fuelled by olive oil and had from one to a dozen wicks. Some had handles so they could be moved easily from one room to another. They could also be carried by participants in ritual activities or by actors in plays.

Lamps could be decorated with erotic scenes, with gladiators, mythological figures and floral motifs. They were turned out en masse using moulds rather than being hand crafted.

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