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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a study of light, in particular light produced by flame, by investigating the most representative lighting devices used in preindustrial Greece. The symbolism of lighting devices in traditional Greek society, used either out of necessity or in ritual ceremonies and customs as well as in representations in art and in social discourse, is examined to reveal aspects of that society, its common beliefs, and its social differentiation. The oral literature, the myths and sayings still in use in Greek language, are studied as cognitive instruments, as forms of thought, to understand the way people interpret the world and act within it. Finally, the oil lamp, and its ceremonial use in Modern Greek society, which is closely connected to the Orthodox Christian rituals, is interpreted as a symbol that represents national and cultural identities.

Keywords: oil lamp, crusie lamp, Orthodox Christianity, Enlightenment, candle, olive oil, beeswax, Balkan peninsula, Greece, Ottoman Empire

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