‘Cave Canem’, Beware of the Dog, from Vesuvius 79 AD, replica guarding entrance to Bantry House, West Cork, acquire on Grand Tour by Viscount Berehaven pre 1840.
Beware of the 2,000 year-old dog!
Cave Canem (Latin – ‘Beware of the Dog!’) The dog we are here being warned about probably lived in England in the second quarter of the 19th century, but it must have had ancestors in Italy nearly two thousand years ago, because this is a copy of a mosaic found in Pompeii – hence the Latin – buried in volcanic ash when Vesuvius erupted on 24 August AD79.
Cave Canum tile panel
The ‘House of the Tragic Poet’, excavated in 1824-1825, is named after other mosaics discovered there depicting scenes from the theatre. But it was the dog mosaic found in the entrance hall that seized everyone’s imagination – including some enterprising sort who saw…
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