Return to Venationes
The popularity of the venatio in North Africa led to the formation of sodalities to organize them. These fellowships, which were unique to Roman Africa, maintained the animals and hired the venatores who fought them. Fittingly, they also functioned as funerary societies and may have engaged in commercial activity, such as the export of olive oil. It is probable, too, that they served as intermediaries in supplying animals for the arena.
In this mosaic from Tunisia, representatives from five sodalities are shown drinking at a banquet table reminiscent of the arena, each distinguished by his own emblem, a stalk of millet, pointed crown, or ivy leaves. The representative of the Telegenii, who seems to be presiding over the event, carries a staff with a crescent moon and declares "We three are getting along fine," while the others variously exclaim "Let us amuse ourselves," "Enough said," " We have come to drink," and, in a damaged caption, a proposal to his companions that they should disrobe.
A servant extends a glass of wine from a table next to a large vat, while another, his hand to his mouth, admonishes the drunken revelers to be quiet and let the five bulls sleep, each of which is branded with the company's symbol. The next day, the animals will be matched against the venatores.
References: Mosaics of Roman Africa: Floor Mosaics from Tunesia (1996) by Michèle Blanchard-Lemée, Mongi Ennaïfer, Hédi Slim, and Latifa Slim; The Story of the Roman Amphitheatre (2000) by D. L. Bomgardner; The Colosseum (2000) edited by Ada Gabucci.
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