Antiquities > Oil Lamps

Oil Lamp Fragment with Perseus? from Caesarea Maritima


Hi, all.  Here is a neat little piece that I think is part of an oil lamp discus.  The image looks like a heroic figure to me, but the closest parallel I have found is actor Harry Hamlin, from the movie "Clash of the Titans"!  Could this be Perseus holding the head of Medusa in his left hand?  He is wearing a cloak pinned at the right shoulder.  Would this be a chlamys?  Any other ideas, corrections, or referenced examples would be most appreciated. 

Decorated Oil Lamp Discus with Perseus?
Caesarea Maritima. 1st-2nd Century CE
Small, thin waterworn fragment, probably an oil lamp discus
with a standing male figure, facing, wearing cloak pinned on
right shoulder.  Uncertain object to his left.  Possibly Perseus
with the head of Medusa?  Medium fine-grained, light tan clay
with many small crystalline inclusions.  Mould made.  Origin:
N. Africa? or Italy?  2.3 x 2.2cm.  Max. Th.: 0.3cm.  Wt: 0.82gm.
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1970's
(click for larger pic)

Joe Sermarini:
I think you have it right but unless you find another, I don't think you can be certain.

I’m not sure, but this seems more like a unique Roman take on the Greek Perseus with the head of Medusa because of the paludamentum, a cloak or cape fastened at one shoulder, worn by military commanders in Republican and Imperial Rome and rather less often by their troops. The fibula or clasp is very conspicuously displayed like a high-ranking status symbol and almost off the shoulder in the Roman fashion like a modern military epaulette. I’m assuming the round waterworn object is Medusa’s decapitated head which by way of interpretation is how Rome dealt with her enemies. I almost forgot to mention what appears to be the naively rendered winged helmet/hair on the figure identifying it as Perseus.

Thank you Joe and Serendipity.  I had been wondering about this for a while.  It actually looks really nice in hand!



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