Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rome Holidays - 12 Mouth of Truth

Walking down the street from Piazza del Campidoglio, the grand Theatre of Marcellus greets us.

Theater of Marcellus Exterior

The theater was built by Emperor Augustus, and completed in 11 BC.  It is named after the Emperor's nephew, who was destined to be the Emperor's heir, but died at a young age.  Take note of this emperor's name, Augustus.  He is the one who is said to turn Rome from a city of BRICK into a city of MARBLE.  When you visit Rome and look at the many Roman ruins, you will roughly know whether the ruins are from pre or post Augustus era, who ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD.  He is also the first Roman Emperor.  Life, or history is full of coincidence, beginning of the Roman Empire, somehow coincides with the legendary birth of Jesus Christ!

When the theater was first opened, it was the biggest open air theater in Rome at the time.  In terms of shape, it has the typical Roman amphitheater look, and looks like a scale down version of the Colosseum.  Over 2000 years of its history, the theater was acquired by a number of Roman wealthy families, who converted it into a fortress as well as a palace.  From the outside, it looks like a Roman ruin, but inside, it actually serves as apartments on the upper floors today! It will be really interesting to stay in such an apartment once, if possible.  

Theater of Marcellus and its modern apartments

After we passed by Theater of Marcellus, we were close to one of Rome's famed attractions - The Mouth of Truth, La Bocca della Verita in Italian.

To locate this 'mouth', you will first see a Roman temple standing lonely in a square, next to a major traffic junction.

Roman Temple

Then you will see the towering bell tower of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. 

Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin

The church's bell tower should be the landmark you look for.  The Mouth of Truth, which is a piece of marble slab with a diameter of 1.75m, is actually hard to locate, if you don't know where it is.

Do you see the Romanesque arcade in the portico of the church?  There lies our famous MOUTH.

La Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth)

The exact origin of the Mouth of Truth is uncertain.  Some speculate it was part of an ancient fountain, some claims it was a manhole cover.  Nobody knows exactly its original use.  Then in medieval times, people use it as a lie detector.  Legend has it that if you tell a lie, and you put your hand into the mouth, you hand will be bitten off!

And this legend would not have shot to international fame if not for the American movie Roman Holiday in 1953, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.  You can see a trailer of the movie of this particular scene below, in Italian though :)

You can find all my Rome Holidays posts here.

No comments:

Post a Comment