CATONE, GIUBA E VINCENTIUS. IL PROGRAMMA DECORATIVO DELLA CASA DI VENERE A VOLUBILIS
When Volubilis (Mauretania Tingitana) was struck by an earthquake ca. 420 CE, it marked the end of the city as an urban monumental center. The collapse of the stonework also compromised the domus of Venus, and the nearby domus of the Bronze Bust, which is thought to have contained a portrait of Juba II. The furniture in the domus of Venus featured many sumptuous pieces made of marble and bronze. Among them, the portrait of Cato minor was deemed an extraordinary exemplum virtutis. The program behind the floor mosaics exalted the power of Eros, and warned against an excess of passion. It is within this context that a panel showing the cat, Vincentius, fighting with a weasel, Luxurius, should be understood. The scene resembles a parody of the ludi that took place in the amphitheater, as shown by the captions ‘you won’ and ‘crave (in vain)’, which refer to both animals.