The large disc of marble known as the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) stands in the portico of the ancient church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. According to legend, it bit off the hand of any liar foolish enough to place it in its giant maw.
The disc in Phrygian marble, which was originally a drain-hole cover, may depict the god Oceanus and may come from the nearby Temple of Hercules Victor. It has stood in the church's portico since the 17th century.
The 'Mouth of Truth' played a star role in the movie Roman Holiday (1953). In it Gregory Peck plays a prank on Audrey Hepburn by pretending to lose his hand in the 'mouth'.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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