Griffin's Head Lamp
Noteworthy for its imposing size, this lamp is also remarkable for its combination of pagan and Christian imagery. The handle is an elegantly articulated griffin's head, which derives from pagan mythology, while the cross, symbol of salvation, and the dove, symbol of enlightenment through the Holy Spirit, are primarily Christian symbols. The griffin, having an eagle's head and a lion's body, was associated with Apollo, recognized as the god of the sun, the source of light, and the Muses, personifications of culture and knowledge.
Light, a frequent metaphor of divine emanation in the Old Testament, was often used as a reference to Jesus and his ministry in the New Testament. In fact, every Christian lamp could be a metaphor for Jesus, who said, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life" (John 8:12). An apt reference to Christian salvation, lamps and other Christian symbols were decorated with crosses during the centuries after Christianity's official acceptance by the Emperor Constantine in 313.
During the early Christian centuries, Christian imagery was not isolated from pagan imagery, nor did it wholly replace it. Combinations of age-old images were thought to reinforce the spiritual and apotropaic character of new visual images, aiding in warding off malevolent forces. The griffin, cross, and dove combined Apolline and Christian references into a new, but short-lived cultural hybrid.