THE MOUTH OF TRUTH
Whether you like it or not, it is impossible not to notice the sculptured image installed on the lawn near the chapel just before Christmas. It is called The Mouth of Truth, (La Bocca Della Verita) and is a replica of the original in the portico of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.
Although lots of myths and theories have arisen about the sculpture, research in 1989 identified the work as a symbolic representation of the god, Faunus and dated it at about 200BC.
Faunus was originally worshipped throughout the Italian countryside as a source of fruitfulness in fields and flocks. He eventually became primarily a woodland deity, the sounds of the forest being regarded as his voice. Hopefully he feels at home in our gardens and near our bushland.
If you recognise the sculpture, this may be because you have seen the original or perhaps you remember the film Roman Holiday, (1953), starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. The Mouth of Truth was featured in that film because the characters originally were not honest with one another.
The point being that the ancients regarded the sculpture as a lie detector. If you were careless with the truth, it bit your hand.
So much for myth and legend. Archaeologists believe that the original structure may have been a drain cover.
It is certainly a very evocative classical image that, along with the many beautiful frescoes and fountains in the vicinity of the chapel, reminds us of the influence of the ancients in our search for truth and beauty through art.