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Splendide Mendax

  • H. J. Randall

This is not the occasion to discourse of the Art of Lying in general. The subject is too wide for any essay, and the present writer can claim no special competence. Yet, contrary to much generally received opinion, mankind for the most part are extremely bad liars,—not for want of practice, but because of inherent deficiency. This proposition is accepted as axiomatic in the practice of law and in the science of history. Few witnesses can survive a really skilled crossexamination unless they are speaking the truth or a fairly close approximation to it, and the historical witness is in little better case. The difficulties inherent in testimony are immense, but deliberate untruthfulness seldom prevails.

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Translated by Smith Minor, in one of his most inspired moments, as ‘lying in state’.

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* Translated by Smith Minor, in one of his most inspired moments, as ‘lying in state’.

1 A good critical account is The False Decretals, by Davenport, E.H.. Oxford, 1916.

2 It may again be remarked that Bertram’s notes only relate to chapters 1 and 2 of Book I. Apparently the effort to annotate the whole work could not be sustained.

3 There is no copy of the map with these MSS.

4 The map is attributed to Stukeley and dated 1755, but it is Bertram’s revised map of 1758, not the map in Stukeley’s ‘Account’.

5 A Literary Forgery: Richard of Cirencester’s tractate on Britain, by Woodward, B.B. Gentleman’s Magazine, N.S.I (1866) pp. 301, 617; 2 (1866), 458; 4 (1867) 443. Earlier communications on the forgery were printed in the Magazine for 1846–7, 26, 365 and XXVII, 377, 480; 1853, 39, 270.

6 Ricardi de Cirencestria Speculum Historiale. Edited by Mayor, J.E.B. Rolls Series, 1869, vol. 2, preface.

7 The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon, 1852, p. 459.

8 The Description of Britain, London, 1809, p. 144.

9 This distance is given as vili in the printed copies but in the MS it is VII.

10 Roman Occupation of Britain, 1924, p. 70.

11 The site is unquestionably Roman. See Wheeler, R.E.M.A Roman site in Pembrokeshire’. Arch. Camb. 78 (1923), 211–24.

12 Col. 605. Also in Gough’s edition of Camden, 1806, 3, 140.

13 Roman Occupation of Britain, p. 78.

Translated by Smith Minor, in one of his most inspired moments, as ‘lying in state’.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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