Little Stories is a category I started on my Instagram channel and where I post short stories, curiosities or trivia. Here you can find all posts about Italy. #littlestories
#4 The biting mouth of stone
Did you ever get bitten by a stone?
Today’s #littlestory brings us to Italy’s capital Rome. La Bocca della verità (Mouth of Truth) is made out of marble and got famous through the movie Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in 1953.
The history and the original use behind the stoned mouth are not completely clear till today. Some say it’s a former relict from an altar of Hercules and was used as a drain cover. Others believe it symbolises the Titan Oceanus from Greek mythology. Another theory is that the opening of the mouth was used to drain the blood of cattle that were sacrificed for Hercules.
The most common myth says that the mouth can uncover lies. When people put their hand in the opening of the mouth and lie, the stone will bite the hand off as a punishment. (If they tell the truth nothing will happen.) I read that it was even used by the law in medieval. If the judges were “sure” that the offender lied they instructed their helper to cut off the hand from the other side.
Nowadays, it is a famous tourist attraction and many tourists come to put their hands inside the stone mouth (to be fair, we did it as well – I am happy to tell you that I still have both of my hands).
I even remember that when we were on holiday in Croatia, there was a similar‑looking machine which was labelled as a fortune teller one – like reading out of one’s hand. I read that a few of these machines exist around the globe.
If you visit Rome, you can find the Mouth of Truth in front of the church Santa Maria in Cosmedin at Piazza della Bocca della Verità. The disk was transferred to the church in the middle of the 17. Century.
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You have read the blog post Little Stories of Italy – Short stories, curiosities, and trivia on My Travel Journal-Blog.