All the legends about the ... Bocca della Verità

The Bocca della Verità and its Legends
The Bocca della Verità - that means "mouth of the truth" - is the protagonist of several legends from the ancient times, and they can't be missed. According to the legend, the Bocca della Verità used to eat the arm of those who used to tell lies cutting the hand in its mouth. However, if the indicted tested was telling the truth, nothing happened, so that the person accused to be guilty could demonstrate to be innocent.
A legend tells about a woman considered guilty of adultery. She had to put her hand in the mouth, swearing to have never hugged - in all her life - any other men except for her husband.

The legend of the Unfaithful wife
The legend tells the neighbors discovered the woman used to receive regular visits by another man, while her husband was out of the city. They told her husband about it, so he asked her for some explanations, but she send it was false. In order to take caravans, she proposed to be tested by the Bocca della Verità, to demonstrate she was innocent.
Her husband accepted the request, and asked the audience to give his wife a chance. On the final day, a young man - apparently mad - moved around the crowd, to discover what was happening. He reached the woman one moment before she put the hand into the Bocca della Verità, he hugged and kissing her lips, to finally go away screaming words with no sense.
The audience - completely shocked - thought he was just crazy, and so it sent him away. After the chaos had ended, they brought the woman in front of the big stone: she put her hand into the mouth saying no man had never kissed or hugged her in all her life, except for her husband and the young crazy man who did it a few minutes before.
La Bocca della Verità obviously didn't close its mouth, it didn't cut the woman's hand, and her husband had to trust her. Evidently, the crazy man was the woman's lover. He had pretended to be crazy to kiss her in front of the people, in order the audience would have been witnessing them and the Bocca della Verità would have demonstrated the woman's innocence, and the Bocca della Verità test was cheated. The woman could continue her extramarital relationship, in order nobody could have convinced her husband she was and faithful.

The myth of Giuliano
Even if the legend of the unfaithful woman is one of the most fascinating ones, it is not the only existing one. For example, a 12th-century German book tells about a meeting between Giuliano and the devil. Giuliano had cheated a woman a few minutes before putting the hand into the mouth, so he had to demonstrate his innocence.
A moment before he put the hand into the mouth, he heard a voice coming from it. It was the voice of the devil, pretending to be Mercury, and promising him to make him reach if he would have sworn to reestablish Paganism. Giuliano swore to do it, so as required by the voice of Mercury, and the mouth saved his hand. According to the legend, from that day on, Giuliano's life changed forever. He immediately started to work, and a few years later he was officially recognized as the emperor responsible of the restoration of Paganism in the empire. The treasures the voice promised him arrived during the following years, while Giuliano went on developing his project in a very committed way.

The legend of its built
Several legends tell about the build of the Bocca della Verità. One of the most famous tells us about Virgil the Grammarian, a prominent scholar of the 6th century. It is said this man knew the dark magic, and he was able to make wonderful works. According to legend, Virgil was betrayed by his wife while he was out of town, but when he asked her for explanations about it, she just denied everything. It is said the magician decided to make the Bocca della Verità to create an instrument able to discover unfaithful husbands and wives.
The first woman who tried the effect of the mouth was Virgil's wife. The legend tells she couldn't believe in what she was seeing, while the mouth was cutting her arm, so she admitted to have cheated on her husband

The history of the emperor
Another legend, less famous than the previous ones, tells about a Roman emperor who betrayed her husband - the emperor himself. When he came back from the war, he discovered it, so he asked to his wife about it, but she denied it.
So he thought to use the Bocca della Verità to discover the truth. The woman was not stupid, so she cheated the mouth by a logic trick. The husband changed his mind and a few time later went back to the war. The woman, however, could quietly attend her lover for ever.

The history of the Bocca della Verità
Its fascinating history takes place in the ancient Roman Empire, as the Bocca della Verità was just a sewer cover. During the Imperial age, the sewer covers used to be decorated by the face of a divinity drinking the rain.
Lately in the Middle Ages, legends and stories about the magical powers of the Bocca della Verità started to be told. They are interesting and fascinating, and according to some of them, the Bocca della Verità is still hiding secret powers, so creating a big mystery halo around the famous mouth.

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06/08/2018
Bocca della VeritàRione RipaRomans Legends

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