οὐ παλαιὸν εὕρημα λύχνος. ‘The lamp is not an ancient invention.’ The words of Athenaeus (15, 700e) have often been quoted. The lamp was familiar to Minoans and Myceneans, but it died out, and does not reappear till the seventh century. In the dark age that intervened, the Greeks, as Athenaeus goes on to say, used the light of the torch and of other pieces of wood: φλογὶ δʾοἱ παλαιοὶ τῆς τε δᾳδὸς καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ξύλων ἐχρῶντο. There is only one mention of a lamp in Homer: in Odyssey 19, 33–4 Athene, unseen, lights Odysseus and Telemachos with a lamp: ‘Pallas Athene went in front with a golden lamp, making a very fine light’:
According to a modern writer, ‘the lamp is significantly of gold, and in the hands of Athena, it is therefore something rare and costly, or to speak historically, something new’: but I confess I cannot see how this follows from the text.