In Antiquity, a lamp was originally called a lychnus, from the Greek λυχνος, with the oldest Roman lamps dating back to the third century BC. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. Over time, the manufacture of lamps increased, and so did the variation in decoration, which depended mainly on the shape and size of the lamp. Common decorative themes depicted on the discus were entertainment scenes, such as gladiators in combat, popular myths, and domestic animals. The Roman god of love Cupid is here portrayed leaning on the club of the famous hero Hercules. This symbolic representation was popular in the first centuries of the Roman Empire and shows that love can overcome and subdue even the greatest hero. Cupid, a personification of love, has rendered Hercules useless, his club a metaphor for the hero’s strength and force.
To discover more about Eros’ iconography in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: Eros’ Iconography in Classical Times.