Seventeenth Annual Graduate Student Colloquium, Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, March 23, 2011.
Light My Fire: And Overview, Typology, and Analysis of Erotic Roman Lamps|
Dreaming of Amor: Ovid's Error in Epistulae ex Ponto 3.3 |
Dueling Dreamers: Divine Dreams as Propaganda During the Second Punic War |
A Light in the Dark: Redefining the Function of the Lighthouses in the Adriatic Sea During the Roman Age, in Light of the Archaeological Research |
Counteracting Night's Song: Image, Sound, and Theology in Iliad 5 |
Light My Fire: And Overview, Typology, and Analysis of Erotic Roman LampsAlexander "Teddy" Mazurek, Department of Classics, SUNY Buffalo
The study of Roman lamps has been undertaken in great length by both D.M. Bailey and
Siegfried Loeschcke. Bailey focuses on Roman lamps that are part of the British Museum's
collection, made both in Italy and the provinces that were part of the Roman Empire (Bailey
1980). Loeschcke's examination centers around lamps found at the site of Vindonissa, a Roman
legionary camp, located in modern day Switzerland (Loeschcke 1919). Loeschcke's respected
typology relies primarily on the form of the lamp's nozzle, discus, and shoulder to provide a date
range. This formal typology is directed towards those in academia, who study Roman lamps and
are acquainted with the variety of existing typologies. Bailey's organization of lamps is based
on decorative scenes, and thus directed towards non-experts, who can easily distinguish different
decorative elements from one another. One surprisingly large category of decoration is erotic
This paper examines the genre of erotic decoration that adorned Roman lamps through an examination of both Italian-made and Roman provincial lamps, with an emphasis on the work of Bailey and Loeschcke. I will address the wide variety of erotic decoration, the relative frequency of various erotic designs, compare their recurrence to non-erotic decorations, what is considered to be erotic adornment, the inspiration for such designs, and what the decoration might suggest about both the owner and the craftsman who made it.
While Roman lamps vary greatly in decorative motifs, specifically on the discus, Loeschecke's typology does not rely on the scenes to provide a date range. With this in mind, this paper will lastly test whether correlations exist between Loeschcke's typology and subsequent date range with erotic scenes, in hopes to see when erotic lamps flourished during the Roman Empire.