Running Hare

By
Michele Asuni
Michele Asuni is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Classics at Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to Hopkins, he received a BA and an MA, both in Classical Philology and Ancient History, from the University of Pisa. Primarily a Hellenist, his main interests lie in archaic and classical Greek literature and culture, textual criticism, and Silver Latin. He is currently completing a dissertation on the aesthetics of color in Greek literature, from Homer to Heliodorus.

_NWK4230web

  • Accession Number: JHUAM HT 332
  • Measurements: Length: 9.7cm, Width: 6.7cm , Height: 2.7cm
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Culture/Date: Roman, Mid 1st c. CE
  • Provenance: Unknown

 

This lamp’s discus decoration features a hare running to the right—an image that might have evoked either a larger hunting scene or a more bucolic depiction of agricultural life. This image of a hare may also be interpreted as a representation of xenia. Xenia is the plural form of the Greek xenion, a word that is usually translated as “a gift of hospitality.” In Greco-Roman art, the term xenia often describes the representation of foodstuffs, such as fruit, fish and game that would typically be given by a host to his guests at the end of a banquet. Objects decorated with images of xenia were often intended as gifts.  It is possible, then, that the little hare depicted on this lamp was also meant as an emblem of kindness and generosity.

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