Want to know if someone is telling you the truth or not? Have them place their hand in the Mouth of Truth. If it comes out unbitten, they have told you the truth!
Well, that's what the Romans believed. The Bocca della Verita, a marble disk depicting an image of the river god, has hung in the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome since 1632. The disk is thought to be an ancient Roman ornamental drain cover.
I personally put the disk to the test. Deliberately telling a lie while placing my hand in its mouth, the Mouth failed to bite me. Am I that good of a liar? I don't think so. Maybe it has more to do with another myth. The one about how it was tricked by a cunning philanderer. It goes like this:
A jealous husband decided to see if his suspicions about his wife's unfaithfulness were true and had her put her hand in the open mouth of the mask. The event attracted a huge number of spectators. As the wife was about to put her hand in the Mouth, a stranger jumped out of the crowd and started kissing and embracing her.
It was explained that the man was absolutely crazy and he was let go. In reality, he was her lover. So when she put her hand in the Mouth of Truth and said that she had never been touched by anyone apart from her husband and this crazy man, her hand was not bitten.
Upset by the trickery, the Mouth of Truth has refused to work since.
Lucky for me, and my hand! Visiting the Mouth of Truth is free, however, drop a coin or two into the donation box to avoid frowns from the guards standing nearby. When you visit, take the test ... but for your sake, I hope the Mouth doesn't decide to start working again ...
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