Located near the Circus Maximus under the portico of the Church Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the Mouth of Truth (La Bocca della Verità) is a popular destination. Some of us are old enough to have been introduced to this large marble face along with Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday" with Gregory Peck doing the honors.
If the mouth that has tolerated so many probing hands could tell its own truth, who knows what that might be? Take your choice from these possibilities: Among the many legends associated with our large mouthed tattle-tale is that it was created to receive donations through its mouth - or, if you prefer, it was originally a cistern cover - yet another story places a priest behind the mouth with a scorpion that would bite the hand of those he thought were untruthful.
We do know that it was a especially popular in medieval times with husbands who wanted to test the faithfulness of their wives - those wives who refused to subject their hands were not so popular.
Want to try the world’s oldest lie detector? You may not when you find out that it bites. ‘The Mouth of Truth’ is 1.6 meters in diameter and weighs about 1300 kilograms. You place your hand in its mouth and tell the truth.
If you lie, it bites your hand off. Ouch!
Still feel brave? This fantastic large face is made from solid marble and has been dated back to about the 4th century BC. This huge Pagan symbol combines several gods and myths and was always intended, despite it great weight, to be displayed vertically (there are holes in the sides for attachments). It seems to be a blend of the gods Faunus and Silvanus. Faunus was a local Italian god similar to Pan (Greek mythology) who was a king who became divine after his death. He was the son of Saturn and the nymph Canens as is the god of fields and herds. His most important tribute the gifts of FERTILITY and PROPHESY. Silvanus was a god of forest and bush.
Because of his ability to Prophesize, the image of Faunus is included in the Baccchanalia and other feasts honouring Bacchus, Janus, Dianna, Saturn and Mars.
Some other characteristics of the face include the round shape which represents the sun – vital for agriculture. Fertility is represented by the scrota and horns (so leaflet tells me that I bought). There is also the heads of 2 wolves in profile on the sides that are a reference to the god Lupercalia. This protector keeps wolves away from the herds, brings good harvests to farmers, game to hunters and fish to fishermen. The Romans probably placed this huge face in the temple of Ceres in the area where Rome was born. Because of its size and strength the face has been passed down the centuries and now finds itself inside a Christian Church.
SO GO ON! Stick your hand and the better arm in. Look at who you came on holiday with. Tell them you love them……
La Bocca della Verita, or Mouth of Truth, because legend has it that your hand will be bitten if you tell a lie. It's not very easy to find, as there are no signs outside indicating where it is. It is propped up under the porch of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. That church is directly across the street from the Temple of Vesta, the round marble temple with all the fluted columns, near the bank of the river.
The Santa Maria Cosmiden church is a easy walk from the Piazza venezia. Walk towards the Theater Marcellas (looks just like the Coloseum) and down the hill and across the street from the round Temple. There you will find (on the porch wall) the Mouth Of Truth...stick in your hand then if you tell a lie....he will bite your hand off!!!(according to legend) Please go inside and look at this magnificent old titler Church....take time to drink in the mosaics on the ceilings and the floors...
It’s located under portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. I was waiting about a half hour in the line to make a picture with my hand in the mouth. Well I suppose that you know the story about this mouth...It’s opened until 6 p.m.
The Santa Maria in Cosmedin is a very modest church from the 6th century. It is worth going into the church, but also have a look in the gallery of the the church. There is a big head. Known as the Bocca della Verita, the mouth of truth. Legend has it that it bites your hand of if you are a liar. To try it just put your hand in the mouth and answer a question.
The Bocca della Verita, or the Mouth of Truth is in the porticoes of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. It owes its name to a popular attribute: the belief that it will bite the hand of liars.
There are probably as many theories regarding its original purpose as there are years of its existence. Popular ones include that it was a sewer or drain manhole cover or a fountain head. However, in dispute of these particular theories is the fact that there are no evident signs of erosion or wear around the holes where water would have flowed had it been part of a drain or fountain, and the quality of the marble and its size also suggest otherwise. According to the guide leaflet sold at the site, it is now believed to be a symbolic representation of the divine form of the god Faunus, a king who became divine after his death.
There are holes in the sides which indicate the points at which it was attached to a wall, suggesting that it was always intended to be kept in a vertical position.
And of course you have to have your picture taken with your hand in the mouth!
(see the website given below for further discussion of origin theories)
La Bocca della Verita means "The Mouth of Truth." It is located inside the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, and was featured in both the film, "Roman Holiday," as well as "Only You." You are to insert your hand in its mouth and, if you're dishonest, your hand will be eaten! I was lucky enough to have my hand returned -- honest person that I am!
See the Bocca della Verita in the annex to Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This ancient drain cover stands against a wall. People believed that if you put your hand into the slit, and told a lie it would bite your hand off.
It's a bit of fun.
Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth) is located inside the portico of the 12th century church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. I wanted to see this place ever since I was a little girl and I watched "Roman holiday" the charming movie starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. The mouth is an ancient version of a lie detector; the legend has it that if a person that told a lie will stick his hand into that mouth, his hand will be chopped off. I had the guts to give it a try and came off looking like the most honest person on the planet :-)
Most people who come to Rome to see its treasures without falling into the touristy pitfalls will still find themselves throwing a coin over their left shoulder into Trevi fountain to guarantee their eventual return. (That's their LEFT shoulder, mind you!) Near Santa Maria in Cosmedin, an ancient church with a plain interior, people from all over the globe get caught having their photographs taken with the Bocca di Verita, which is actually (or thought to be) an old Roman sewer drainage cover that looks like a human face. Legend has it (or rather the tourism industry requires) that the lips close over the hand of someone telling a lie. This is generally proven when the petitioner thinks up a lie in his/her own heart, inserts his hand and pulls back -- his/her own hand!
Santa Maria in Cosmedin is better know for its portico where the famous Bocca della Verita, or mouth of the truth is found.
The Bocca della Verita is an ancient drain cover in the shape of the mask of a fluvial divinity and according to legend "its mouth will close upon the hand of any liar who places it inside the opening".
The church was built on the ruins of temples devoted to Hercules and to Ceres. The original church was transformed by Pope Hadrian I in the 8th century and consigned to Greeks who had sought refuge from persecution in Constantinople. Even today the Byzantine mass is celebrated here on Sunday. “Cosmedin” is a Greek word for ornament.
Built on century XI over ruins of romans constructions. On its portic you will find the famous Bocca della Verita. Legend says it has the power to bi the hand to the one who lie. We could not ge in the church because is under reforms, only you can visit the bocca and souvenir shop.
Fue construida en el siglo XI encima de ruinas de construcciones romanas. En su portico encontraras la famosa boca de la verdad. La leyenda dice que tiene el poder de morder la mano de quien miente. Nosotras no pudimos entrar dentro de la iglesia porque esta de reformas, solo pudimos visitar la boca y la tienda de souvenirs
The church from the Middle Ages on the Piazza della Bocca della Verità, namely the ´Santa Maria in Cosmedin´, holds a wonderful secret: in the corridor outside you can find the face of a watergod. The stone image is as high as a man and has the (translated) name: the mouth of the truth.
Long, long ago people tested whether or not someone spoke the truth by putting the hand of that person in the mouth of the watergod. If they were liars their hand would be bitten off. (in fact: someone would stand behind the wall with an axe to do the trick.....)
Would you like to test your partner... ; )
In the portico of Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on Piazza Bocca della Verita
Bocca della Verita, or 'the mouth of truth', is a depiction of a mask with an open mouth. According to an old legend, if you put your hand in the mouth when you are telling a lie it will snap your hand off.
Not as useful for detecting off-site lies though :)
To keep in mind
As with all popular locations, the queues are huge. Also, once you're there and are about to put your hand into the Bocca, remember that you're only allowed one photo.