Roman Oil Lamp, Leda And The Swan
- In stock, ready to ship
- Inventory on the way
Ancient tales from Greek mythology have entertained thousands of years and continue to be told and studied today. Through these surviving stories, passed down from one generation to the next, the names and fates of many ancient figures continue to be well known and remain part of our culture.
A figure whose story is still referenced today is the Spartan queen Leda, who is mentioned in numerous surviving texts from antiquity, including Homer (Iliad and the Odyssey), Virgil (Aeneid) and Ovid (Metamorphoses). Leda's noble features have been immortalised for centuries. She is seen on Greek vases, on the wall of a Pompeian pub, in artwork by Rubens, as a marble sculpture and on numerous Roman oil lamps, but to name a few. She is a part of our history and continues to be part of our culture.
As is the case with many myths originating in ancient Greece, it is complicated and sometimes uncomfortable (particularly from a modern perspective), with several variations of the same tale. The story revolves around the seduction or rape of Leda by Zeus, depending on the version told. Either way, Zeus's tactics weren't honest and upfront!
Seeing the beautiful Leda happily going about her daily life undisturbed, Zeus decided to leave his throne on Mount Olympus to visit her. He was uninvited and disguised as a swan throughout this encounter.
From this union, she lays either one or two eggs, which you can see in the decoration depicted on this lamp. From the eggs hatch four children, Castor, Pollux, Helen (of Troy) and Clytemnestra, all of whom star in their own legends. Leda, the queen, the mother, the daughter and the woman, is an important figure in Greek mythology, and her story is just the beginning of a great line of mythological figures.
When recreating this lamp, based on one from the 1st century AD, we had to applaud and appreciate the artistry of the original maker, but it is worth remembering the nature of the subject. We need to remember that Zeus' treatment of women is appalling and that there is no place for this type of behaviour in the world.
Because we think that everyone deserves to feel safe, we will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this lamp to Newcastle Women's Aid.
This type of lamp would have shone out through the dark winter nights across this far northern outpost of the Roman Empire, providing a warming glow in houses, temples, military camps, milecastles and turrets along the length of Hadrian's Wall. The lamp is a fully functional replica. You can use it to burn olive oil just as the original would have done. This replica is based on one that is on display at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich.
This lamp comes with one cotton wick so that you can use your lamp as soon as you have read the safety instructions. One wick will give you hours of light if used correctly, but should you wish to have more than one wick; you can purchase spare wicks by following this link: Lamp Wicks
As with all our Museum Quality Replicas, we have made this pot, as the original would have been, entirely by hand from natural clay and using replicas of the types of tools that the ancient makers would have used. As each pot varies, you may not receive the vessel in the image, but you can be sure that your pot will be one of a kind due to the variations caused by the firing process.
Terracotta earthenware with a red slip finish
Approx 120mm long
The lamp is available in both white clay and red terracotta. Approx 120mm long
Health and Safety
Before attempting to use your lamp, you must read the operating and safety instructions.
Burn ONLY OLIVE OIL in your lamp.
DO NOT use modern lamp oil or other flammable liquids.
Place the lamp on a stable, non-absorbent and non-flammable surface, far from any sources of heat.
Always snuff out the flame, never blow it out. Never use water to extinguish the flame.
Please DO NOT attempt to move or pick up your lamp whilst it is lit.
Ensure that there are no flammable materials above or near the lamp.
DO NOT leave your lamp unattended whilst it is lit.
Keep the wick trimmed very short to ensure a clean, bright flame and reduce fire risk.
This lamp is not a toy; KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.
Use of this lamp is at your own risk; we cannot take responsibility for accidents or injury caused by the use of this lamp.
Extinguish the lamp by snuffing it out with a metal spoon.
Before filling your lamp, adjust the wick to not protrude above the edge of the wick aperture.
Fill the lamp with olive oil through the filler hole in the centre (allow the wick to soak for 1 hour before lighting for the first time).
Light the lamp. If the flame produces smoke, shorten the wick. You can do this by gripping the wick with tweezers through the filler hole and gently turning it round, rewinding the wick into the wick aperture. They should not do this whilst the lamp is lit, or the wick is still hot.
All items are sent using a second class postal service; if you wish to have an item sent first class, please contact us for a quote. Many Thanks