Why do these four tragic couples decorate the four corners in the Salon of Venus? Theseus and Ariadne, she is still holding on to her threads, but you cannot win the man’s heart with favors, not even with sexual favors; so, she has been dumped on the first island;
Anthony and Cleopatra, mixed marriages are always a can of worms, so the queen is grasping a pet snake to help herself out of the situation;
the same for Titus and Bernice, the torch of his extinguished love under the foot of this very stoic Roman Emperor: did the right thing though, nipped it in the bud, the reasons of the state put before any personal affection;
Jason and Medea, it’s all his fault, he knew he was marrying a witch, there’s that proof of her power, a pet dragon creeping next to her right foot.
But really, why are they all here? Beautiful women, intelligent men, or maybe the other way around, ugly men and stupid women.
Perhaps the message is quite simple, although baroque: It is never a sign of intelligence to take a beautiful woman for a wife; so, it remains for every couple to figure out if she is ugly or if he is an imbecile.