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Bocca della Verità, Roma

The Mouth of Truth, a bearded male face, is an ancient mask in marble, since 1632 immured in the wall of the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome (in Piazza della Bocca della Verità, opposite the Isola Tiberina, proceeding from the Circo Massimo towards the Tiber).
During the period of ancient Rome, the Mouth of Truth was a manhole, representing a river god that swallowed rainwater. The Mouth is more popular than ever: tourists love to be photographed with a hand into the "magic" mouth. The stoneface has ancient, legendary fame: it was mentioned in the 11th century in "Mirabilia Urbis Romae" (a guide for medieval pilgrims), as having the power to utter oracles. In the Middle Ages a legend became widespread that the Mouth would reveal the betrayal of husbands and wives.

In one story, a Roman woman deceived it with a logical artifice. The offending woman asked her lover to show up on the day when she was to be subjected to the test and, feigning madness, to hug her in public. At the time of putting her hand into the Mouth, the woman could swear that she had been touched only by her husband and by the man that everyone had seen. Having told the truth, she was able to withdraw her hand free from the terrible mouth, although guilty of adultery.

The video is a creation of the You Tube channel Carmelo Fiore.

[The video is not seen well with Internet Explorer 8 - in case watch it on YouTube directly].
Bocca della Verità, Roma
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0:00
Sotto il portico della chiesetta di Santa Maria in Cosmedin c'è una pietra ovale, una pietra rotonda di marmo, una pietra antichissima, raffigurante una testa di un tritone con la bocca spalancata.
Under the portico of the church of Maria in Cosmedin there is an oval stone, a round stone of marble, a very ancient stone, depicting a head of a newt with its mouth wide open.
0:30
Nel Medioevo i giudici usavano questa pietra per confessare i bugiardi.
In the Middle Ages judges used this stone to make liars confess.
0:40
Sottoponevano gli imputati alla prova della verità, al "giudizio di Dio", come loro dicevano, e la cosa avveniva così:
The defendants were subjected to the test of truth, the "judgment of God," as they said, and it happened like this:
0:50
L'imputato veniva fatto avvicinare al tritone, e doveva mettere la mano destra in questa bocca. Se diceva la verità, la mano usciva intatta. Se diceva una bugia, ahimè, la mano veniva mozzata.
The defendant was invited to approach the newt, and had to put his right hand into this mouth. If he was telling the truth, the hand came out intact. If he told a lie, alas, the hand was severed.
1:00
Dietro la pietra c'era un soldato con una spada affilatissima. A un cenno dei giudici, non esitava, tagliava, e... zac! La mano veniva tagliata.
Behind the stone there was a soldier with a very sharp sword. At a nod from the judges, he did not hesitate, cut, and ... wham! The hand was cut.
1:15
Naturalmente i giudici sottoponevano a questa prova ogni imputato di cui sapevano la colpevolezza sicura, però gli davano un'occasione per dire la verità, per confessare la verità, e magari, perché no, redimersi.
Of course the judges subjected to this test each defendant they knew was truly guilty, but gave him an opportunity to tell the truth, to confess the truth, and maybe, why not, redeem himself.
1:30
Ci sono molti episodi su Roma, e molti episodi su questa famosa statua della Bocca della Verità, ma uno in particolare mi fa piacere di raccontarvi.
There are many episodes about Rome, and many episodes about this famous statue of the Mouth of Truth, but one in particular I am pleased to tell you.
1:40
È la storia di una donna adultera: era bellissima, e molto giovane. Era sposata ad un notabile di Roma, molto conosciuto.
It is the story of an adulterous woman: she was very beautiful, and very young. She was married to an important person in Rome, a well known man.
1:50
Aveva dei vicini molto curiosi, come sono tanti vicini. E una notte questi vicini si accorsero che un giovane si era introdotto nella sua casa saltando dalla finestra.
She was very curious neighbors, as many neighbors are. And one night these neighbors noticed that a young man had entered her house jumping over the window.
2:05
Il marito era assente, e lo scandalo fu grandissimo: se ne parlò in tutta Roma.
The husband was absent, and the scandal was great: it was talked about all over Rome.
2:15
La donna cercò di scusarsi, di giustificarsi, negò tutto. Ma il marito infuriato era irremovibile, e decise. Decise che anche la moglie si sarebbe sottoposta a questa terribile prova: alla Bocca della Verità, al giudizio di Dio.
The woman tried to apologize, to justify herself, she denied everything. But the enraged husband was adamant, and decided. He decided that his wife would be subjected to this ordeal: the Mouth of Truth, the judgment of God.
2:30
E così fu. Il giorno stabilito la donna si presentò, e avanzò tra due ali di folla. Quando, improvvisamente, dalla folla si staccò un giovane, che si avvicinò, la abbracciò e le dette un bacio con tanta passione.
And so it was. On the appointed day she showed up, and walked between two wings of crowd. Suddenly, out of the crowd came a young man who approached her, hugged her and gave her a passionate kiss.
2:50
La folla si ribellò, sgomento, altro scandalo, il marito infuriatissimo, volevano linciare questo giovane!
The crowd rebelled, they were dismayed, another scandal, her husband absolutely furious, they wanted to lynch this young man!
3:00
Ma lui si giustificò dicendo che aveva visto questa donna così bella, e non aveva potuto fare a meno di darle un bacio.
But he justified himself by saying that he had seen this woman, so beautiful, and he could not help but give her a kiss.
3:15
Il giovane fu perdonato, ma la cerimonia doveva andare avanti lo stesso. E così la donna si avvicinò alla pietra, ma a un certo momento si girò di scatto e, rivolgendosi ai giudici e al popolo, disse:
The young man was forgiven, but the ceremony had to go ahead anyway. And so the woman went near the stone, but at a certain moment she suddenly turned and, addressing the court and the people, she said:
3:25
"Giuro che, a parte questo giovane che mi ha baciata, nessun uomo mi ha mai toccato, compreso mio marito!"
"I swear that, apart from this young man who just kissed me, no man has ever touched me, including my husband!"
3:35
Introdusse la mano nella bocca del mostro, e la mano uscì intatta. I giudici erano rimasti interdetti, sapevano che la donna era colpevole, sapevano che il giovane era il suo amante, ma non potettero fare niente, perché la donna confessò questo stratagemma!
She thrust her hand into the mouth of the monster, and his hand came out intact. The judges were left dumbfounded, they knew that the woman was guilty, they knew that the young man was her lover, but they could not do anything, because the woman confessed the trick!
4:00
Aveva detto la verità! Si dice che le donne ne sanno una più del diavolo... è vero! Ciao!
She had told the truth! They say that women know one more than the devil ... it's true! Bye!