Roman lamp

Lamps (lucernae ) were often made of terracotta, and these are in many ways of special interest. Originally they appear to have been called lychnus , from the Greek λύχνος, and this word is used by Ennius, Lucilius, Lucretius, and Virgil. Varro says that the word lucerna , from lux , was invented when the want of a Latin word was felt, and that previously candelae  or torches had been alone in use, there being no oil known in Italy suitable for this purpose. Even in Greece lamps were comparatively rare all through the best period. The oldest lamps found in Rome date from the third century B.C., and are thought to be of Campanian fabric; they were found on the Esquiline, and are of quite different character from the ordinary Roman types. It would appear, therefore, that originally the Romans borrowed lamps from Southern Italy. By the time of the Empire their use had become general, and they are found everywhere. The increase in their manufacture was mainly due to growing taste in house decoration, and also to use in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes, such as illumination. Of the latter use in imperial times there is plenty of evidence.

The sites on which Roman lamps have been found are far too numerous to discuss in detail, as they embrace every part of the Roman Empire. In Rome and the neighbourhood they are especially plentiful, as is implied by the fact that a large portion of the fifteenth volume of the Latin Corpus Inscriptionum  is devoted to those with potters' stamps alone. They are found in all parts of Italy, in Gaul, Germany, Britain, Spain, North Africa, Sicily, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, and Asia Minor. The question of centres of manufacture is discussed elsewhere in connection with the potters' stamps; but it may be noted that those found on Greek soil are often of a distinct character from those of Western Europe, and the stamps on them form a distinct group, being usually in Greek letters. Of provincial sites, Knidos, Ephesos, Carthage, and some of the German towns have proved particularly rich in this respect. Large numbers have been found in London, mostly of the later types, some perhaps of local fabric, and those in the Romano-British collection of the British Museum are nearly all from that city or from Colchester. Not the least remarkable fact of their wide distribution is the occurrence in the most widely separated regions of the same potter's stamps and the same subjects, implying in the former case extensive export from one centre, in the latter systematic commercial intercourse between the potters of different districts.

The principal parts of a Roman lamp are: (1) the reservoir or body, which contained the oil (infundibulum ); (2) the flat circular top, known as the discus , sometimes with an ornamented rim(margo ); (3) the nozzle, with a hole for the insertion of the wick (rostrum nasus , myxus; the wick was called ellychnium ); (4) the handle (ansa manubrium ), which was not indispensable. In the discus  was a filling-hole for pouring in the oil, sometimes protected by a cover or stopper, and sometimes a second smaller hole, the purpose of which has been disputed. The number of nozzles was not limited, though there is usually only one; a lamp with two is known as bilychnis ; one with several, as polymyxus . Martial in one of his epigrams says: “Though I illuminate whole banquets with my flame, and have so many nozzles (myxos ), I am known as a single lamp.” The wicks were made of a plant known as verbascum  φλόμος or thryallis , but tow, papyrus, and sulphur were also employed; the oil was a vegetable oil of some kind. Sometimes the lamps were provided with a sort of snuffers or tweezers for extracting and trimming the wick, as described in a passage in the Moretum  (10 ff.), which speaks of drawing out the wick of a dying lamp with a needle:

Admovet his pronam submissa fronte lucernam,
Et producit acu stuppas humore carentes
Excitat et crebris languentem flatibus ignem.

The purposes for which lamps were used by the Romans were various, but fall under three main heads: (1) for purposes of illumination in private houses, in public buildings, or on occasions of rejoicing; (2) as offerings in temples; (3) as funerary furniture.

In small houses they were placed either in niches in the walls or on brackets, or were suspended by chains, or even in some cases hung by the handle from a nail. An Etruscan terracotta lamp bears evidence of having been suspended in the last-named manner, but there is no doubt that this wasmore usual with lamps of bronze, there being few in terracotta which would have admitted of such a use. Sometimes the lamps were made resting on a kind of support, as is the case with two in the British Museum, and others found in Africa. On the support a figure of a deity was usually modelled in relief. Combinations of a lamp and altar are not uncommon, especially at Rome and Naples.There are numerous examples from Pompeii and Herculaneum illustrating their use in private life, although lamps of clay are confined to the poorer houses or to domestic service. For their use in the bedchamber at night evidence is afforded by Martial and other writers. A rough classification of the existing terracotta lamps might be made by dividing them into—(1) those with knobs for hanging, (2) those with handles for carrying, (3) those without handles for placing on tables or brackets.

Many passages in Latin writers afford evidence for the use of lamps in processions or for illuminations at times of public rejoicings, such as triumphs. They were thus used by Cleopatra, at the triumph of Julius Caesar, at the return of Nero, and so on. Caligula had theatrical representations performed by lamp-light at night, and Domitian arranged hunts and gladiatoral combats ad lychnuchos . Severus Alexander lighted up the baths with oil-lamps, and Tertullian speaks of assisting in political triumphs by defrauding the day with the light of lamps. Juvenal also speaks of their use in illuminations. Many lamps, especially those with subjects relating to the circus or games, are inscribed with the word SAECVL (ares ), and it is possible that they were used in connection with the Ludi Saeculares, at which illuminations took place. But lamps with this inscription are not exclusively ornamented with such subjects.

Lamps were used for burning in temples, and were also the subject of votive offerings to the gods, in Greece as well as in Italy. One found at Oenoanda in Lycia was offered “to the most high God”; and those which Sir Charles Newton found in such large numbers at Knidos were also votive offerings in the temenos of Demeter. Votive lamps are recorded from Selinus, and at Carthage numbers were found round the altar of Saturnus Balcaranensis. To their use in the worship of Isis, as referred to by Apuleius, we allude below.

Nearly all lamps have been found in tombs, the custom of placing them there being one of Asiatic, not of Greek, origin; it became quite general under the Roman dominion. Christian lamps are found in the catacombs, but not in cemeteries, showing that the practice came to be regarded as pagan. At Avisford in Sussex they were found placed in open bowls with handles, on brackets along the side of a tomb.The Roman lamps found in tombs were placed there, like the Greek vases and the later glass, for the use of the dead, sometimes, though not necessarily, with the idea of their burning perpetually. An inscription on a sepulchral cippus  in the British Museum directs the heirs of the deceased to place a lighted lamp in his tomb on the Kalends, Nones, and Ides of each month, and similarly L. Granius Pudens of the seventh cohort requests that his family should place oil in a lamp on his birthday.Another inscription in an elegiac couplet says: “Whosoever places a lighted lamp in this tomb, may golden earth cover his ashes.” A fourth inscription directs the daily offering of a lamp at the public expense to the manes  of a deceased person. In the story of the matron of Ephesus, told by Petronius, a servant-maid is described as replenishing the lamp in a tomb as often as was required. Two lamps in the Athens Museum have the subject of a bear, and over it the inscription ΦΟΒΟC , “Fear”; being found in tombs, they must have been placed there with some significance, and as, on the evidence of a Cilician inscription, Phobos was regarded as a guardian of tombs who frightened off robbers and other evilly-disposed persons, it may be that the terrible bear was placed on the lamp as a symbol of this protector of the dead.

Other superstitious uses of lamps, not connected with the tomb, were not uncommon. Omens were drawn from the way in which the flame burned, and Chrysostom describes a method of naming children by giving names to lamps, which were then lighted, and the name of the child was taken from that last extinguished.

There are also a few other exceptional uses of lamps, as for instance when they were given as strenae , or New Year's presents. Such lamps usually have a figure of Victory holding a shield, on which are the words ANNVM NOVVM FAVSTVM FELICEM , “A happy and prosperous New Year!” In the field are heads of Janus, or cakes, wreaths, and other objects also probably intended for presents. These all appear to date from the beginning of the first century after Christ. A lamp of the same class in the Guildhall Museum has on the shield FIILICTII Felic(i)t(as). It is interesting to note that the New Year lamps are found in tombs; they may, of course, have been preserved and buried as mementoes; but at the same time, it is not essential that the subject on a lamp should have any relation to its purpose, as we have seen in the case of those inscribed Saeculares . The Helioserapis lamp (see p. 403) and those with Phobos as a bear may, indeed, be instances to the contrary, but on the whole it would seem that the same rule would apply as in the case of the terracottas.


The earliest Roman lamps are of rude shape, undecorated, with a long projecting nozzle and circular reservoir; they are not always provided with handles, but are often covered with black glaze, like the Greek examples. Lamps of this type are found on the Esquiline, in North Africa, as at Carthage, and in Sicily. One of the Esquiline examples, dating from the second century, has the engraved inscription VEVCADIA  (Fig.202). Like the Greek lamps, these are made on the wheel (τροχήλατοι), not, as later ones, in a mould. Names in graffito seem to imply a reference to the person in whose tomb the lamp was found, and such formulae as AVE, NOLI ME TANGERE, NII ATTIGAS NON SVM TVA M · SVM, PONE FVR (“Drop it, thief!”), which occur on the Esquiline lamps, also clearly refer to funeral usage.

FIG. 203.

In the first century B.C. the lamps, still mostly of black ware, and devoid of subjects, are distinguished by the straight-ended, concave-sided nozzle 20 26nozzle with a shallow groove leading to the centre, small grooved ring-handle, and sometimes a lateral projection like a fin, from which some varieties are known as “delphiniform” (Fig. 203). These are often found in North Africa, but are also imported into Italy, and some have Greek stamps. The top is sometimes covered with globules, or with patterns of vine and ivy, and in the later examples figure-subjects are introduced.The earlier ones have large single letters or monograms underneath for potters' marks; the later, the name of the potter or superintendent of the pottery.


We now come to the Roman lamps of the Imperial period, of which such large numbers exist in museums all over Europe and the basin of the Mediterranean. They have not as yet been very systematically studied and classified; but so far as the subject has been treated at all, those who have investigated the development of the forms are fairly unanimous in their general conclusions. The last writer on the subject, Herr Fink, of Munich, has advanced a step further, and by comparison of forms with potters' signatures has arrived at some interesting results, which we need not hesitate to accept in the main. He adopted as the basis of his classification the form of the nozzle in each case, for the obvious reason that it is more essential to the character of a lamp than the handle; if the latter is removed, the form is in no way affected, as it would be by the absence of the nozzle.


Following, then, on the lines of Fink and the other writers, we may establish—apart from abnormal forms and lamps modelled in the shape of figures—four main classes, which are sufficient to include practically all the lamps with which we have to deal. They may be summarised as follows:

(1) Lamps with rounded nozzle or nozzles, flanked on each side by a kind of double volute, as in Fig. 204 and B.M. 167-352. The usual number of nozzles is one, but two are not infrequently found. These belong to the first century B.C., and, being convenient forms for a decorated top, are ornamented with all kinds of subjects; the handle when present is often ornamented as in the cut.

(2) Lamps of the same type as the last, except that the nozzle ends in an obtuse-angled termination, as Fig. 205 and B.M. 94-166. It is a form not adapted for more than one nozzle, and usually has no handle.


(3) A small but distinct class, almost devoid of figured decoration (Fig. 206 and B.M. 379-392), but usually with a potter's name underneath; the form is elegant, and probably copied from bronze. The chief feature is the sunk centre, in which is usually placed a Bacchic or comic mask; round it runs a raised rim, through which a shallow groove passes to the somewhat elongated nozzle. This dates from the first century of the Empire or earlier, some being found with coins of Augustus, others at Pompeii; these lamps are of red clay, unglazed, and have no handle. On the sides are projecting knobs, either concealing the joins of the moulds, or for the attachment of chains. The names of the makers, Strobilus, Communis, Fortis, etc., are in good raised letters, impressed in the mould (see Fig. 210). They are found in all parts, but rarely south of Rome; most of them are from Gallia Cispadana, and they may have been made at Mutina.


(4) In this class (Fig. 207 and B.M. 393-567) the nozzle is small, and hardly projects beyond the rim of the lamp; it is semicircular or heart-shaped in form, and sometimes has an incised line or circles at the base. Fig. 208 represents a late development with the heart-shaped nozzle, in which the design is always surrounded by a wreath or ornamental pattern. Many of these lamps, especially those found in Greece, have no handle; there is also a somewhat late variety, described on the same page, which is confined to Greece and marked by potters' signatures in Greek letters (B.M. 604-629). These lamps date from the time of Trajan onwards; the signatures are usually abbreviated, and are stamped hollow, or sometimes scratched in the wet clay; raised letters are rare. The subjects are very varied.


Some of the larger lamps in the first class, especially those with more than one nozzle, have a flat vertical projection attached to the top of the handle, triangular in form or crescent-shaped (as in Fig. 204), and this is often ornamented with figures in relief, either whole subjects or busts of deities, or such simple motives as a pair of dolphins, a leaf, or a palmette. The figure-subjects are often quasi-Egyptian, such as Harpocrates and Safekh on a British Museum example (No. 337 = Plate LXIII. fig. 3), or a lectisternium  of Sarapis, Isis, Helios, and Selene. In a few cases this projection is replaced by a bust or even a seated figure of Sarapis enthroned in a niche. But in most cases the handle, when present, is of a simple form, either a ring with shallow parallel grooves or a solid projecting piece through which a hole is pierced.


Roman Lamps of Various Forms (First Cent. B.C.)
(British Museum).

Lamps of terracotta often assume, like those in bronze, a more ornamental form, being modelled partly or wholly in the form of figures, heads, animals, and so on. In some cases the upper part or discus only is modelled, assuming the form of a mask—Satyric, theatrical, or grotesque. Among the entire-figures which form lamps occur Artemis, Eros, Victory slaying a bull, and various animals; more common are heads of Zeus Ammon, Pan, Seilenos, negroes, and animals such as oxen, birds, snails, frogs, or tortoises. A favourite shape is a lamp in the form of a foot or a pair of feet, shod in sandals or boots, and there are two lamps in the British Museum, one of enamelled ware, in the form of a gladiator's helmet; others form fruit, pine-cones or crescents. In the lamps which are modelled in the form of a head, the chin usually forms the nozzle, and the orifice for filling is on the forehead; in those in the shape of a foot the nozzle is formed by the great toe. Occasionally lamps are found in the form of a ship, recalling that which, according to Apuleius, was used in the worship of Isis: a golden boat or cup (cymbium ), which shone with a clear light and sent forth a long flame. An interesting commentary on this use of lamps is formed by a remarkable example in the British Museum (Plate LXIII. fig. 1), which is not only in the shape of a boat, but is decorated with subjects referring to the pseudo-Egyptian cults characteristic of Rome in the late republican and early imperial period. This lamp, which is no less than twenty inches long and has numerous holes for wicks along the sides, was dredged up from the sea at Pozzuoli, where it may originally have been in the temple of Isis and Sarapis. On it is the inscription ΕΥΠΛΟΙΑ, signifying “a prosperous voyage,” perhaps as a prayer on behalf of the donor, and underneath are the words ΛΑΒΕ ΜΕ ΤΟΝ ΗΛΙΟΣΕΡΑΠΙΝ, “Receive me, Helioserapis,” by which the name of the vessel may be intended.

Most lamps had only one wick, but the light which they afforded must have been feeble, and consequently the number was often increased. When the number is not large, or when the body is circular (as in Plate LXIII. fig. 4), they project beyond the rim of the lamp, as in Class I. already described, but the lamps which have a large number are usually boat-shaped or rectangular in form (see Plate LXIII.), and the nozzles do not then project, but are ranged along the sides, merely indicated by separate moulding underneath. Occasionally a conglomeration of small lamps was made in a row or group, but even in these cases the illumination given must still have been feeble. The average size of a lamp is from three to four inches in diameter across the body, the length depending on the form of the handle and nozzle, but averaging about an inch over the diameter, and they are mostly about an inch in height. The top of the lamp is almost always circular in form, occasionally oval, and rarely rectangular, and is usually slightly depressed, being thus shaped to enable any overflow of oil to run down through the filling-hole. Many Greek lamps, and Roman lamps from Greek sites, such as Cyprus, are convex above, with a small moulded disc on the raised centre, in which is the hole. These are either devoid of decoration, or only have an ornamental pattern or a frieze of figures on a small scale. Usually the subject is enclosed within a plain moulded rim, but in the later examples (Class IV.) especially it is more contracted in extent, and surrounded with a border of ornament, such as the egg-pattern or a wreath of some kind (see Fig. 208).

Christian lamps, which hardly come within the scope of this work, vary very little in form; they have ovoid instead of circular bodies, a plain rounded nozzle, and a small solid handle, and the design is always encircled by a band of ornamental pattern or symbolical devices.

The clay of which the lamps are made is usually of a red colour, due to the presence of red ochre (rubrica ), but it varies both in quality and tone according to localities; those from Greek sites, such as Athens and Corfu, are often of a pale buff colour, those from Cyprus a light reddish brown, and so on. Martial refers to the red clay of Cumae, a place where lamps are sometimes found, and those from Naples are usually of a dull brown or yellow colour. Lamps found in France and England are often imported from Italy, and therefore of the ordinary red clay, but those of local manufacture are of a white or yellowish tone.


The earliest undecorated examples are made on the wheel, as are those from the Esquiline and from Carthage, in which the decoration is only incised; but subjects in relief required a different technique. Occasionally they are modelled by hand, but we find that from the first century B.C. onwards they are almost invariably made in moulds, modelled from a pattern lamp, in a harder and finer clay than the pattern. The mould was divided into two parts, adjusted by mortices and tenons, which, in the opinion of some writers, explains the lateral projections visible on certain varieties; the lower part formed the body of the lamp, the upper the decorated discus . The two parts seem to have been marked by corresponding letters to avoid errors, and there are two or three lower lamp-moulds in the British Museum from Ephesos and elsewhere, marked with an A on the under side for this purpose. Other examples of moulds have been found in Greece, Italy, and Africa, and there are also specimens both for the upper and lower half in the Guildhall Museum. They were either of terracotta or plaster.

The clay was impressed into the mould with the fingers, the figured decoration being applied by means of models or stamps, as with the Arretine ware, and the ornamental patterns probably produced with a kind of wheel or running instrument, as in Roman pottery. Signatures in relief were taken from the mould, those in hollow letters were impressed in the lamp itself from a stamp before baking. Important potteries must have possessed a large number of moulds; for instance, at Rome alone ninety-one different subjects are found on the lamps of one potter (L. Caecilius Saevus), eighty-four on those of C. Oppius Restitutus, fifty-one on those of Florentius, and there must of course have been many more now lost. It is clear that the same types were used by different potters; the models must, therefore, have been handed about from one to another, each potter merely adding his own name.

The two portions of the mould were joined while the clay was moist, and pared with a tool, and the orifice for filling was then pierced. Glaze, when used, was applied before the baking, for which only a moderate temperature seems to have been required; this process followed as soon as the clay was dry. In some lamps a small hole or slit may be observed, which some have thought to be for the pin with which the wick was extracted, but it is more probable that it was for a piece of wood which held the top and bottom of the mould together until the clay was united; it was usually covered over before the baking, and may have taken the place of the knobs already spoken of which occur in other forms. The lamps were baked in batches, placed closely together or superimposed, and it sometimes happens that a number are found united together which had coalesced firmly in the furnace, as in Sir Charles Newton's excavations at Knidos.

Subjects  are first found on lamps in the second century B.C., though these are quite of a simple character. Lamps of this date from North Africa have such designs as an altar and fruit, a vase, or a caduceus, a head of an ibis, or a nude incised figure of Tanit; others have merely a wreath round the centre, and these apparently belong to the first century B.C. The number of figures is generally small, it being contrary to the principles of ancient art to crowd a work with minute figures and details. The majority of lamps have only one figure, and few beyond those of exceptional size have more than three. As a rule the treatment is careless and the figures very indistinct, but the lamps with Greek signatures form a notable exception.

It may be imagined that the lamp-maker sought to gratify the taste of his customers by ornamenting his ware with familiar subjects. Purchasers of terracotta lamps were, as has been noted, generally persons of inferior condition, and the subjects on the lamps are in many cases a popularising of well-known myths or even of works of art, such as the Venus types or the Maenads of the “new-Attic” reliefs. The types of Victory and Fortune are reflections of statues of the period, and are repeated in many bronze statuettes. There are also, as we shall see, occasional references to literature. In Rome the stage exerted little influence, and subjects are rarely taken from the drama (masks are an exception); but the games of the circus and gladiatorial contests found a ready market, and form a large proportion of the designs. The subjects on the lamps, in fact, represent not so much the great masterpieces of art, as do coins or gems, but, like the Greek vases, the popular art of the day, and may be compared with the illustrations of the popular journals and magazines of our own time. On the whole, they are of great value to us as illustrating Roman life and religion, just as subsequently those on the Christian lamps are of inestimable importance for the light they throw on the early ages of our own religion.

As the number of published lamps and catalogues of collections is so very small, the subjects included in the following list are mostly confined to the collections in the British Museum, which are quite sufficiently comprehensive for the purpose. A few additional examples are given from the Guildhall, Vienna, and other collections, from the Antichità di Ercolano , Bartoli's Lucernae veterum sepulcrales , the Musée Alaoui , and other isolated sources. References to Passeri's work, Lucernae fictiles Musei Passerii , have been avoided, as it has been shown by Dr. Dressel that nearly all those published by him are false.

We proceed to note the principal subjects in detail, observing practically the same order that was adopted in describing the subjects on Greek vases. They may be roughly divided into eight classes:—

(1) Olympian deities.
(2) Miscellaneous deities.
(3) Heroic legends, etc.
(4) Historical and literary subjects.
(5) Genre  subjects.
(6) Animals.
(7) Inanimate objects.
(8) Floral and decorative devices.

The Olympian deities are not often represented, some not at all, except on a lamp in the Kestner collection at Göttingen, which has busts of all the twelve; they are not, however, clearly distinguished by attributes. Zeus is represented with Hera and Athena, the three Capitoline deities of Rome, whom the Etruscans knew as Tinia, Thalna, and Menerfa, the Romans as Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. He also appears alone, seated on his throne, but more commonly his bust only is represented (Plate LXIV. fig. 4), accompanied by his eagle, which perches on a thunderbolt, sometimes conventionally rendered. The eagle and the thunderbolt also appear alone, or the former with Ganymede. A bearded horned mask may be intended for Dionysos, but is more probably Zeus Ammon. Sarapis is sometimes enthroned, with Cerberus at his side; sometimes only his bust occurs, surmounted by the usual kalathos ; Cerberus is also found alone. Hera, except in the instance mentioned, does not occur. A very interesting lamp from Salamis, Cyprus, now in the British Museum, represents the contest of Athena and Poseidon for the possession of Attica; it is doubtless a reminiscence of the Parthenon west pediment, though rough and indistinct in execution. Athena is also seen as a single figure, seated, or standing in the usual Promachos attitude, or before an altar, or pursuing a panther; her head or bust are not uncommon. Apollo is usually represented seated, playing on his lyre, or with the Gryphon at his side; Artemis appears as a huntress, accompanied by her hound, or drawing an arrow from her quiver. A lyre or a crescent appearing alone may be the symbols of these two deities. There are one or two possible instances of Hephaistos and Poseidon, and Demeter may be indicated by a pair of torches; the latter also appears in her chariot, seeking for Persephone. Ares or Mars is found either as a single figure, in a chariot, or playing with Eros, who steals his armour. Hermes appears as a single figure, or accompanied by a sheep, goat, or cock; in one instance he presents a purse to Fortune, who is accompanied by Herakles. A common subject is his bust, along with his attributes of the purse and caduceus; the latter attribute, accompanied by two hands joined, may also have reference to this deity. Aphrodite occurs but rarely; she is either represented accompanied by lions, or riding on a goat, or at the bath or toilet, or in the Cnidian type, all these types being probably reproductions of known works of art. She is also accompanied by Eros, who assists in arming her; this type is known as Venus Victrix, and is seen in a group of Aphrodite and Eros in the Louvre.

More common than all the Olympian deities put together is Eros or Cupid, who appears in all sorts of attitudes and actions, besides those already mentioned. He sits on a chair or reclines on a couch,or is represented in motion, carrying a hare or a bird, a dish of fruit or a branch of vine or palm, a cup, situla, or torch; or plays on the lyre, flutes, or Pan-pipes; or sacrifices a pig, or pours wine into a krater. He rides on a donkey, a dolphin, or a crocodile, or sails in a boat; plays with a chained lion, or is himself tied to a tree. He is represented in the character of Ares, armed with spear and shield; or in that of Dionysos, with cup and thyrsos; or of Herakles, whose club he carries; also, probably in the character of Herakles, he shoots at a serpent. He is also associated with Psyche, and two Erotes sometimes appear together, in one instance in the character of gladiators fighting, in another of boxers. One of the most remarkable lamps in the Museum collection (No. 168) represents a number of diminutive Erotes playing with the club and cup of Herakles; it is unfortunately fragmentary, but another example in Dresden gives the complete design. One plunges head-foremost into the cup; three others raise the club with difficulty from the ground, one supporting it with his back, and a fifth, hovering in the air, pulls at it with his hands. In front of the last-named are the words ADIVATE SODALES , “Help, comrades!”

Dionysos is another surprisingly rare figure on the lamps, though his followers, the Satyrs and Maenads, have their full share of representation. He occurs as a single figure of youthful appearance, and also with his panther, to which he offers his kantharos to drink from; his mask or head may also be recognised. Pan is occasionally found, in one case in the form known as Aegipan in company with Echo, in another as a grotesque bust. There is also an instance of Marsyas hung up for his punishment to the branch of a tree. A pastoral deity playing flutes on the handle of a lamp in the B.M. (No. 366) may be either Pan or Marsyas. Satyrs are represented seizing Maenads,dancing, drinking, and playing on the Pan-pipes, or carrying cups and wine-skins, or with a goat; both the bearded and beardless types are found, and their masks or busts are also common.The shaggy-haired Papposeilenos is occasionally represented. Maenads are depicted dancing, in frenzied attitudes, or sacrificing kids; the type is often that of the “new-Attic” reliefs, derived originally from Scopas, of the Maenad Χιμαιροφόνος. Their heads and masks also occur.


Roman Lamps with Mythological and Literary Subjects
(British Museum ).

Among the minor deities we find that Helios and Selene (Sol and Luna) are often depicted together,or Selene alone, or else their busts together, or separately; in one case there is a simple representation of the solar disc for Helios. A curious subject in the British Museum collection is apparently a combination of the Christian “Good Shepherd” with Helios and the crescent for Selene.Asklepios and Hygieia occur in rare instances, and there is an example of Charon in his boat. Of marine deities and monsters, Triton or Proteus, wearing the pileus  or mariner's cap, Scylla, and a Nereid riding on a sea-monster (Plate LXIV. fig. 1) are found. The popularity of exotic religions at Rome is testified to by the occurrence, on the one hand, of Kybele with her lions, and Atys; on the other, of Egyptian deities such as Sarapis, already mentioned, and Harpocrates, who is found either alone, or with Isis, or with Isis and Anubis, or with Safekh (Plate LXIII. fig. 3); Isis and Horus, and busts of Hermanubis and Isis are also found. On the handle of a lamp is a lectisternium  with busts of Sarapis and Isis, and of Helios and Selene. The busts of the two Kabeiri also occasionally appear. Among personifications or quasi-personifications we find the three Charites or Gracesand a Muse with lyre; others are all typically Roman, such as a bust of Africa on a lamp from Carthage, and such types as Abundantia (or two cornucopiae as her symbol), Vertumnus, Fortune with her steering-oar and cornucopia, and Victory. Many of these seem to be reflections of bronze statuettes of the Roman period. The latter goddess is frequently found, bearing a wreath, a trophy, or a shield, sometimes reclining or in a chariot; or again between two Lares; or two Victories are grouped together. Of special interest are what are known as the New Year lamps, given as strenae  on January 1st, on which Victory is represented holding a shield, on which is inscribed an aspiration for a happy New Year, the head of Janus, cakes, coins (stipes ), and other emblems filling in the rest of the design (Plate LXIV. fig. 5).

Occasionally the inscription is varied, and appears as “For the safety of the state” or “Happiness” simply. Two Lares confronted, holding cornucopia, etc., are also found without Victory. Of representations of Phobos (Fear) we have spoken already. There are also representations of terminal deities, as well as unidentified goddesses.

Coming now to the heroes and heroic legends, we find that they play on the whole an inconsiderable part in the list of subjects on lamps. Leda is represented with the swan, and the Dioskuri sometimes appear as busts; also Kastor as a full figure, accompanied by his horse. Of the labours of Herakles we have the Nemean lion, the Erymanthian boar, the hydra, and the slaying of the serpent in the Garden of the Hesperides, as well as the combat with a Centaur and the freeing of Prometheus. He is also represented as a single figure, holding the apples of the Hesperides,leading kids, or with a jug or drinking-cup, or his head alone (both bearded and beardless types). Theseus slays the Amazon Andromache; Perseus is represented carrying the Gorgon's head; Bellerophon is seen fallen from his horse Pegasos, or leading him to drink at Peirene; there are also possible representations of Kadmos and Meleager. Europa is depicted on the bull; Endymion asleep; Aktaeon devoured by his hounds; Telephos suckled by the hind; and Eos pursuing Kephalos. Icaros in his attempted flight is watched by Minos from the walls of Knossos (Plate LXIV. fig. 2). From the Theban legend we have only Oedipus before the Sphinx, a scene from the Phoenissae  of Euripides, and Amphion and Zethos seizing the bull for the punishment of Dirke. Nor are scenes from the Trojan cycle much more common; but Achilles and Thetis are represented, and also Achilles dragging the body of Hector round the walls of Troy; there is a curious scene, somewhat grotesquely treated, of Odysseus and Neoptolemos stealing the bow of Philoktetes, who fans his wounded foot; Ajax is seen grieving after his madness; and Aeneas carries off his aged father and his son from Troy. Odysseus appears before Kirke, passing the Sirens, and offering a cup to Polyphemos, but sometimes also without the Cyclops. Orestes appears at his trial before Athena in the presence of a Fury. A Centaur is seen carrying off a woman, and in combat with a Lapith; also with a lion, carrying an amphora, or playing flutes. An Amazon wounded, standing at an altar, and accompanied by a crane, are also among the list of subjects. A single figure of Pegasos, and the Gorgoneion or Medusa-head, are not infrequently found. Combats of Pygmies and cranes, and a Pygmy on a crocodile, may also perhaps be included under this heading.

The next group of subjects includes those of a historical or literary character. In the British Museum there are two very interesting representations of Diogenes in his tub or pithos , presumably addressing Alexander, as in the well-known story, but the latter is not represented (Plate LXIV. fig. 6).

Among portraits are busts of Aesop, and various Roman personages, such as Hadrian, Antonia, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Commodus, Julia Domna, Lucius Verus, and others who cannot be identified. A scene from the Phoenissae  of Euripides occurs on one lamp, with the combat of the two brothers and the death of Jocasta; the name of the play is actually inscribed on the lamp. With reference to Virgil's first Eclogue we find a representation of the shepherd Tityrus on a lamp found at Pozzuoli; the shepherd, whose name is given, is seated among his flocks. Several lamps illustrate the well-known fable of Aesop, of the Fox and Crow. The fox, wearing a chlamys, stands on his hind-legs holding up a pair of flutes to the crow, which is perched on the top of a tree. Another subject, which doubtless has reference to some fable, is that of a stork holding in its beak a balance, in which a mouse is weighed against an elephant. The humour of the subject lies in the fact that the mouse is seen to weigh the elephant down. These two are illustrated on Plate LXV. figs. 3, 6. There is also a lamp in the British Museum (Plate LXIII. fig. 2) with a curious subject which may either be a scene from a comedy like those on the South Italian vases, or else a parody of “a visit to Asklepios.”

The subjects taken from ordinary life are eminently characteristic of the social life of Rome under the Empire. An almost inordinate proportion relate to the now popular gladiatorial shows, and many others deal with the events of the circus and arena. Of gladiatorial subjects there are three principal varieties, which occur again and again on lamps of all shapes and periods with little alteration. One class represents a single gladiator in the characteristic armour, with visored helmet, greaves, and arm-guards, sword and shield; the next represents a combat of two (Plate LXV. fig. 5), in which the one is usually worsted and falls at the other's feet, his shield on the ground beside him. An interesting example in the British Museum (No. 526) shows a mirmillo  or secutor  in combat with a retiarius , who fought with net and trident. The third series has representations of gladiatorial armour ranged in a circle: swords, shields, arm-guards, greaves, and helmets.


Roman Lamps with Miscellaneous Subjects
(British Museum ).

From the circus and games we have such subjects as a naval contest in the amphitheatre; a bull-fight; a bestiarius  contending with boars; a man leaping over a bull; and boxers. A remarkable lamp in the British Museum (No. 164 = Plate LXV. fig. 4) gives a representation of a chariot-race in the circus; we have the colonnade of latticed barriers (carceres ) from which the chariots started, the spina  down the middle of the course, adorned with shrines and obelisks, and rows of seats full of spectators; four chariots take part in the race. Next there are scenes such as an athlete crowning himself, a victorious charioteer in his quadriga, or a victory in the horse-race. Of more miscellaneous character are such subjects as a chariot drawn by four men, a two-horse or four-horse chariot by itself, or a man or boy on horseback.

Military subjects are at all times rare, but a not infrequent subject is a mounted warrior charging with a spear; a soldier is also depicted with a bird, at an altar, taking an oath, and saluting an officer who rides past. There are also representations of an imperator  on his triumphal car, of an eagle and standard, and of a trophy perhaps commemorating a victory over barbarians. A representation of a ship or galley is not uncommon, but sometimes it is not easy to distinguish these from the type of Odysseus and the Sirens. Some lamps have landscapes in the style of Alexandrine reliefs and chased metalwork, as for instance a harbour surrounded by buildings, in which two fishermen pursue their vocation (Plate LXV. fig. 1), or a hunter accompanied by a porter, with a town in the background. Among pastoral scenes we have also, besides the Tityrus already mentioned, shepherds and goatherds with their dogs, tending sheep and goats which nibble the foliage of trees; fishermen, and hunters, as already noted. Another interesting type is that of a juggler or mountebank accompanied by a dog and a cat, which climb ladders, jump through rings, and perform other tricks (Plate LXV. fig. 2). Of a more miscellaneous character are such subjects as a butcher slaughtering animals hung from a tree; a fuller at work; a slave washing a dog, and another washing a statue; slaves carrying casks or fasces ; a mule turning a mill. Others, again, do not admit of any exact classification; such are a man and woman embracing; a woman scraping herself after the bath; a youth with a mortar; the sacrifice of a pig; a man riding on a camel or elephant, or driving a camel; a dwarf in a boat or playing on a flute; comic actors, and comic and tragic masks innumerable; and two skeletons dancing.

Animals form a large proportion of the representations on lamps, especially on the late class without handle from Knidos, and include Gryphons, elephants, lions, panthers, boars, bears, wolves, deer, horses, oxen, sheep, goats, dogs, rabbits, eagles, storks, ostriches, peacocks,parrots, cocks and hens, and other birds; dolphins, sea-horses, cuttle-fish and other kinds of fish, scorpions, frogs, shell-fish, and so on. Those mentioned so far are single figures, merely decorative; in others there is more definite action. Such are a lion attacking a bull or crocodile, or seizing a hind or a donkey; two bears dancing; a monkey and vine; a dog on a couch, fighting with a goose, or attacking a stag, hind, or boar; two monkeys in a boat; a hare or rabbit nibbling at a plant; a bird on a twig, sometimes eating fruit; an eagle seizing a hare; an ibis and a serpent; a hen with chickens, cocks fighting, or a cock pursuing a hen; dolphins twisted round a trident or anchor; a crocodile and serpent; a lizard or sea-monster and eel; two serpents, sea-horses, or dolphins with an altar between; and a grasshopper eating grapes.

There are also a large number of lamps, the centre of which is only ornamented with some decorative motive, such as a carchesium , situla, or krater, from which spring vine-branches, ivy, or other plants; an oinochoë, flask, or drinking-cup; palm-branches, wreaths of ivy, vine, oak, and myrtle, sprays of flowers; a cornucopia and caduceus, or other emblems of deities, such as two hands joined with a caduceus behind them; scallop-shells; or purely conventional patterns, such as large four-leaved flowers, stars, and rosettes. The latter are mostly found on lamps from Greek sites, especially in Cyprus, and at Tarsus and Knidos. Many lamps have no decoration on the discus , but only comic masks round the edge, or a border of foliage.

The Christian lamps are as a rule easily to be distinguished from the pagan by their form, as well as by their subjects. These subjects are mainly taken from the Old Testament, from the life of our Lord, and from the sphere of symbolism; the Good Shepherd, the seven-branched candlestick, the cross or labarum , and the sacred monogram, are all favourites.

A considerable number of Roman lamps have inscriptions, either impressed in relief or hollow letters from a stamp, or engraved with a pointed instrument; the stamps were probably of bronze. Potters' signatures and trade-marks are always underneath the lamp, and those found on the top usually relate in some way to the subject. Sometimes, as in lamps from Pozzuoli and Naples, the inscriptions are in relief on the surface, in small tablets. They may, however, be classified under four headings:—

(1) Inscriptions referring to the circumstances under which or for which the lamp was made, as, for instance, with reference to national events or public games, or for religious dedications.

(2) Inscriptions descriptive of the subjects.

(3) Acclamations or formulae addressed by the potter to the public.

(4) Signatures of potters or trade-marks; this class is by far the most numerous.

To the first class belong some of the formulae to which allusion has already been made (pp. , ), such as those on the New Year lamps: ANNVM NOVVM FAVSTVM FELICEM MIHI HIC  (or TIBI , or to some person whose name is given); occasionally this is varied by formulae such as FIILICTII  (for FELICITAS ?), “Happiness (to you)!” OB CIVES SERV (atos ), “For the preservation of the state”; G · P · R · F Genio populi Romani feliciter EX·S·C , “By the decree of the senate”; FIDES PVBLICA , “The public trust,” and the SAECVLI SAECVLO SAECVLARES  group of inscriptions, which may in a few cases refer to the Ludi Saeculares, but more probably are of similar import to the SAEC (ulum AV (reum )DOM (ini ), “The golden age of our lord,“ on a lamp from Antium. The last-named formula, it should be noted, is found both above and below the lamps. LVCER (na PV (b )LICA  probably refers to the use of the lamp in some public illuminations. A lamp in the Trier Museum has the names of the consuls for the year 235 (Severus and Quintianus). Among names of deities for whose sanctuaries the lamps were intended are Venus (SACRVM VENERI , with a figure of the goddess), and the Ephesian Artemis (ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ ΕΦΕΣΙΩΝ).

Among the inscriptions relating to the subjects on the lamps are several which have already been mentioned, such as DIOGENES  and TITVRVS , and also GA (ny )MEDES  over a figure of the same. On a lamp representing the flight of Aeneas from Troy are the names AEN (eas ), ANC (hises ), ASC (anius ), and the exclamation REX PIE , alluding to the former. On another, which represents the fight of Eteokles and Polyneikes and the death of Jocasta, subjects taken from the Phoenissae  of Euripides, occur not only the letters PVL for Polyneikes, but also PHO (e )NISS (ae ), leaving no doubt as to the source whence the scenes are taken. Another in the form of Eros or a Genius with the club and lion-skin of Herakles, lying asleep, has on it the curious inscription AIA STLACIA TVRA DORMIT, STERNIT SIR  ..., the import of which is not quite clear. Similar inscriptions often occur in scenes from the circus or amphitheatre, giving the names of gladiators, as Afer, Helenus, Popillius, or Sabinus, or of charioteers in the circus-races, as C. Annius Lacerta and the horse Corax, which won him a race for the white faction at the Secular Games; another lamp has the name of a horse or his driver, INCITATVS , and a third the exhortation VIG (i )LA PRASINE , which may allude to a driver of the green faction. Over the figure of a warrior on a lamp from Carthage is PLVS FECISSES SI PLVS LICERET , “You would have done more if you had had the chance.” In other cases there seems to be a revival of the old Greek fashion of apostrophising the figures as Kalos e.g. AQVILO CALOS, AXOLMVS  (c )ALOS. There are also inscriptions put into the mouths of figures, as in the subject of Cupids with the club of Herakles, one of whom cries ADIV (v )ATE SODALES , “Help, comrades!” or the funerary Genius weeping over an urn and saying, LVGEO , “I mourn.”

To the third class belong such expressions as HAVE , “Hail!”; VIVAS  or VALEAS , “Long life!”; VTERE , “Use this”; AVE ET VALE , “Greeting and farewell,” on a lamp from Cologne; and on another from the same site, HAVE · MACENA · VILLIS · HAVE · LASCIBA · VALE , which seems to have a somewhat coarse significance. Others allude to the future purchaser, as EME ME , “Buy me”; QVI FECERIT VIVAT ET Q (ui EMERIT , “May the potter and purchaser flourish”; EMITE LVCERNAS AB ASSE COLATAS , “Buy lamps for an ass”; BONO QVI EME (rit ), “May it be for his good who shall buy it.” The latter class are chiefly found in North Africa. Mention has already been made of the inscriptions on the Esquiline lamps, such as PONE FVR ; these are not found on lamps of imperial times, and appear to be peculiar to the early fabrics. Μὴ ἅπτου has been found on a lamp at Athens. On a lamp from Spain is inscribed G · IVLIVS · ARTEMIDOR ... LVCERNAS · II · D D , “C. Julius Artemidorus makes a present of two lamps.” A very curious inscription is found written in ink on a lamp at Rome, to this effect: “Helenus delivers his name to the nether world; he carries down with him coins, a New Year's gift, and his lamp; let no one deliver him except us who have made them.”

Potters' signatures are almost invariably to be found on the under side of the lamp, where they are arranged on the diameter at right angles to the axis of the lamp; sometimes they are placed in a panel or tablet, or within the outline of a foot. In rare instances they are found on the handle, or on the top.Greek lamps which are not of Roman origin are never signed, nor are those of Christian origin; the oldest signatures are to be found on the Esquiline lamps, but they rarely appear before imperial times, when they become fairly general. Among these earlier instances are PRAESE (ntis ) and FL (a )BIA (Flavia ), the latter found at Carthage. More frequently, lamps of this kind have a single letter or monogram by way of stamp; a “delphiniform” lamp in the Musée Alaoui has a monogram of Α and Π. A single letter sometimes occurs above or below the inscription, which may be regarded as a sort of trade-mark indicating the potter (figulus ), the full name being that of the officinator  or master; on a lamp in the British Museum from Knidos (No. 132) the name ROMANE (n )SIS  is accompanied by the letter X; on another, FORTIS  by the letter N. On the lamps signed by L · HOS · CRI , a Gaulish potter, are found the letters G I L M P S T V N Z , and other signs. These trade-marks are not confined to letters; Fortis uses a wreath and palm-branch, as in Fig. 210; L. Caecilius Saevus a palm-branch or a foot-shapedstamp; L. Fabricius Masculus the letters H  and X , a wheel, or a star. Other lamps have no name underneath, but some simple pattern, such as five circles in quincunx  form, or the favourite device of the foot-shaped stamp (cf. p. 333). These varieties of marks were probably intended to distinguish different series in the products of a single pottery.


The signatures are usually abbreviated, the full form being ex officina  (officinatoris ), the name being consequently in the genitive. On a lamp from Rome is EX · OF · AIACIS ex officina Aiacis . Sometimes, but rarely under the Empire, the nominative is used: A.B. fecit , or more commonly A.B.f. Thus we have AVGENDI ATIMETI C . IVLI NICEPHORI , or ASPRENAS FELIX TROPHIMVS. But where a single name occurs it is rarely full enough to show the case. On a lamp at Dresden the potter Diomedes calls himself LVCERNARIVS. From the second century down to the time of Augustus the name may be either in the nominative or genitive, either the praenomen  and nomen , or the nomen  or cognomen  only; these signatures were all incised while the clay was moist. In the period represented by the third class (see p.) nearly all the signatures are cognomina  simply, as ATIMETI COMMVNIS FORTLS STROBILI , all in the genitive. In the fourth class, or lamps of the second century, the nominative is very rare; the names are usually abbreviated, and one (cognomen ), two (nomen  and cognomen ), or three may be found. Potteries were, as we have seen, often owned by women, hence female names are not uncommon. Abbreviations of a particular name vary considerably; for instance, L. Caecilius Saevus appears as L · CAEC · SAE L · CAE · SAE L · CA · SAE ; L. Fabricius Masculus as L · FABRIC · MASC L · FABRIC · MAS L · FABR · MASC FABRIC · MAS , and so on. Or the praenomen  may vary, and for C · OPPI · RES  we find L · OPPI · RES ; or, again, the cognomen , as in the case of C. Junius, where it may be Alexis, Bitus, or Draco, or of L. Munatius, found with Adjectus, Restitutus, Successus, Threptus, and Philemo. The variations in the names may denote potteries in connection, or successive holders of one business. In one instance the name of a workman PVLCHER  occurs with that of Fabricius Masculus, in another that of PRIMVS  with C. Oppius Restitutus. Greek names, where they occur, seem to imply that the potters were freedmen, as in the case of Dionysius, Phoetaspus, and others.

The following list gives the names most frequently found, with the localities in which they occur:—

Annius Serapiodorus  (ANNI · SER ): Rome, Ostia.

C. Atilius Vestalis  (C · ATILI · VEST ): Rome, Italy, Gaul, Britain.

Atimetus : Italy, Gallia Narbonensis, Pannonia.

L. Caecilius Saevus  (L · CAE · SAE ): Rome, Southern Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Gallia Narbonensis, Britain.

Clodius Heliodorus  (CLO · HEL ): Italy, Africa, Spain, Gaul.

C. Clodius Successus  (C · CLO · SVC ): Rome, Gaul, Sardinia, Africa.

Communis : Rome, Pompeii, Gallia Cisalpina, Pannonia.

Crescens : Gaul, Pannonia.

L. Fabricius Masculus  (L · FABR · MASC ): Rome, Gallia Cisalpina, Africa.

Florentius  (FLORENT ): Rome, Italy, Sicily, Tunis, Gaul, Germany, Britain.

Fortis : Rome, Italy, Sicily, Dalmatia, Germany, Gaul, Britain.

Gabinia : Italy, Sardinia, Africa, Gaul.

L. Hospidius Crispus  (L · HOS · CRI ): Gaul.

C. Julius Nicephorus  (C · IVLI · NICEP ): Italy, Gaul.

C. Junius Alexis : Rome, Campania, Sicily, Sardinia, Africa.

C. Junius Bito : Italy, Sicily, Gaul.

C. Junius Draco : Rome, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Africa, Gallia Narbonensis.

L. Mar. Mi.: Rome, Campania, Sicily, Spain, Gallia Cisalpina.

L. Munatius  (with various cognomina ): Rome, Africa.

N. Naevius Luc. (N · NAEV · LVC ): Italy, Sardinia, Spain, Gaul.

M. Novius Justus  (M · NOV · IVST ): Rome, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Africa, Gallia Narbonensis.

C. Oppius Restitutus  (C · OPPI · RES ): Rome, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Africa, Gallia Narbonensis, Cyprus.

Passenus Augurinus  (PAS · AVG ): Italy, Gaul.

Phoetaspus : Italy, Gaul, Pannonia.

Strobilus : Rome, Italy, Africa, Pannonia, Dalmatia, Gaul, Britain.

Vibianus : Gaul, Pannonia.

C. Viciri Agathopus  (C · VICIRI · AGAT ): Italy, Sardinia, Gallia Cisalpina.

It will be noted that nearly all are found at Rome, but that the others fall into geographical groups; the same name is seldom found both in the north and south of the Empire. Thus Fortis is not found in Africa, Oppius Restitutus only rarely in Gaul. Certain names are entirely localised, as Annius Serapiodorus at Rome and Ostia, L. Hos. Cri. and Marcellus in Gaul, Q. Mem. Kar. and Pudens in Sardinia. The name of Vindex, a maker of terracotta figures at Cologne, is found on lamps at Trier and Nimeguen.

The distribution of the Fortis lamps in particular is remarkable. They have been found in several places in Gallia Cisalpina, such as Aquileia; at Lyons, Aix, Orange, and elsewhere in France; at Nimeguen in Holland; at Trier, Cologne, Mainz, and Louisendorf in Germany; in London; in Spain; and over the region of Dacia, Pannonia, and Dalmatia, as well as in Rome and Italy.The most natural conclusion to be drawn from these results is that the majority of the lamps seem to have been made in Italy, and it has been thought probable that there were three principal centres of fabric whence exportation went on in different directions—Rome and its environs, Campania for the lamps found in Southern Italy, Africa, and the Mediterranean, and Gallia Cisalpina for those found in Central Europe. It has also been suggested that the last-named fabric centred in Mutina (Modena) and that this was the place where the lamps of Class III. were chiefly made. Outside Italy there may well have been manufactures in North Africa, where lamps are so plentiful, and in Gallia Narbonensis, to which region some signatures are peculiar. Evidence of a lamp-manufacturer in Africa seems to be afforded by the mention of praedia Pullaenorum  in an inscription from Tunis, the lamps of Pullaenus occurring in Sardinia and Africa. Local fabrics of very poor lamps were doubtless numerous.

A certain number of Roman lamps have Greek signatures, not differing in character but only in alphabet from the Latin inscriptions. The most curious instance is that of ΚΕΛΣΕΙ ΠΟΜΠΕΕΙ for Celsi Pompeii , which is found on lamps in Southern Italy; Πομπιλίου is also found at Naples, and even Ἀβασκάντου and Πρείμου, which are usually associated with lamps made in Greece, occur on some found in Italy. In Sicily we find the signatures of Apollophanes of Tyre (ΑΠΟΛΛΟΦΑΝ ΤΥΡΙΟ) at Himera and Proklos Agyrios (ΠΡΟΚΛ ΑΓΥΡ) at Gela and Catania;Ῥήγλου for Regulus occurs at Tarentum. Greek names are often found in Cyprus, and conversely a large number of lamps found at Knidos by Sir Charles Newton bore the signature ROMANE (n ROMANE(n)SIS, in Latin letters with the S reversed, apparently suggesting that the lamps were made by a Roman abroad. Greek signatures are even found in Gaul and Germany.

Mention must also be made here of the recent researches of Herr Fink with the object of ascertaining the chronological succession and general distribution of the signatures on lamps of the Imperial period. Starting with the four main classes of forms which have already been laid down as the basis (the distinction resting mainly on the various forms of the nozzle), he has obtained, by comparison chiefly of the lamps in the British Museum, Berlin, and Munich collections, the following interesting results.

Certain stamps appear to be peculiar, or almost peculiar, to each class: thus, in Class I. only, we find P. Cessius Felix and L. Munatius Successus; in Class II. only, L. Fabricius Masculus; in Class III. only, Atimetus, Fortis, Phoetaspus, and other single cognomina ; in Class IV., which contains by far the larger number of stamps, Clodius Helvidius, C. Junius Bitus, L. Munatius Threptus, and C. Cornelius Ursus. The lamps of the Gaulish potter L. Hospidius Crispus are all of one peculiar form, a transition between Fink's I. and IV. Cross-instances are very rare, but C. Junius Draco is found in Classes I. and IV., C. Oppius Restitutus in Classes II. and IV., Florentius and Celsus Pompeius in Classes III. and IV. It is also interesting to note that there are lamps in Class IV. with the Christian monogram and the figure of the Good Shepherd. In Class I., generally speaking, signatures are very rare; in Class III. they are almost invariable, but the total number of lamps is relatively small. Another curious result is that certain signatures, such as L. Caecilius Saevus, Bassus, Cerialis, Sextus Egnatius Aprilis, and Romanensis, are not confined to one type of lamp, but in these cases it is to be noted that each type has a variation of signature: thus, in Class I., L·CAEC·SAE ; in II., L·CAE·SAE ; in III., L·CA·SAE ; while in IV.,L·CAE·SAE  occurs no less than 140 times.

His conclusions are that one workshop did not necessarily set itself to produce only one form, but that the differences in form are merely due to changes of fashion. In Class I. Greek technical instincts are still strong as regards form and choice of subjects, but in ornament the taste of Southern Italy prevails; the subjects are mainly mythological. In Class II. the typically Roman motives appear: gladiators, combats, and hunting-scenes; this form, according to Fink, is more developed than Class I. Evidence which has been obtained from Regensburg shows that Class III. belongs to the time from Augustus to Hadrian, and, as we have seen, it is chiefly confined to the north of the Apennines. Where provincial potteries can be traced, as at Westerndorf and at Westheim in Bavaria, the lamps are usually of this form, but it was doubtless imitated in Italy. Form IV. is essentially Italian, but is also found in Central Europe, and is evidently of late date.