The paper concerns the only passage from Greek archaic epic that mentions the lychnos: in a scene from Odyssey (19, 31-43) Athena, unseen by the bystanders, has a golden lamp in hand, that lights up the whole room (vv. 33-34). Ancient and modern philologists often expressed doubt about the authenticity of the passage because of textual reasons; the majority of archaeologists considers it an interpolation, occurring in Athens at the time of the Pisistratids at the end of the sixth century, or later. The scant trustworthiness of the unique literary source and the gap in the archaeological evidence for lychnos between the Bronze Age and the archaic period make the question still disputable. In the paper, conjectures, hypotheses and suggestions are re-examined, and archaeological and literary witnesses are compared; also proposed is a remark regarding the deep connection between the verses and their context, that reveals the special role of the passage in the structure of the story. To sum up, it seems possible to consider the verses the most ancient literary source, authentically Homeric, of the lychnos in Greece, probably testifying to the continued use of the tool since the Mycenaean period.
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