It is a


[ocr errors]

According to Zoroastrianism, truthfulness is a most sacred duty. Lying is a creation of the evil spirits, and the most efficacious weapon against it is the holy religion revealed to man by Zarathustra. In one of the Pahlavi texts it is said that when the Spirit of Wisdom was asked,

Through how many ways and motives and good works do people arrive most at heaven ?” he answered thus : “ The first good work is liberality, the second truth.” ? Contracts are inviolable, both those which are pledged with hand or pawn, and those by a mere word. duty to keep faith even with an unbeliever :-“ Break not the contract, O Spitama, neither the one that thou hadst entered into with one of the unfaithful, nor the one that thou hadst entered into with one of the faithful who is one of thy own faith.”Greek historians and cuneiform inscriptions also bear witness to the great detestation in which falsehood was held by the ancient Persians. Herodotus writes :-“Their sons are carefully instructed from their fifth to their twentieth year in three things alone—to ride, to draw the bow, and to speak the truth.

The most disgraceful thing in the world, they think, is to tell a lie; the next worse, to owe a debt : because, among other reasons, the debtor is obliged to tell lies." ; In the inscriptions of Darius lying is taken as representative of all evil. He is favoured by Ormuzd “because he was not a heretic, nor a liar, nor a tyrant.” His great fear is lest it may be thought that any part of the record which he has set up has been falsely related ; and he even abstains from narrating certain events of his reign “ lest to him who may hereafter peruse the tablet, the many deeds that have been done by him may seem to be falsely recorded.” Professor Spiegel tries to prove that

[ocr errors]


| Bundahis, i. 24 ; xxviii. 14, 16. 2 Dinâ- î Mainôg-î Khirad, xxxvii. Dind- Maînôg-Khirad, xix. 4, 6;

Darmesteler, in $Vendidad, iv. 5 599. Sacred Books of the East, iv. p. lxii. 4 Yasls, X. 2. Spiegel, Erânische Alterthumskunde, 5 Herodotus, i. 136, 138. Cf. 11. 684 sq. Geiger, Civilization of the Stobæus, Florilegium, 44, vol. ii. 227 ; Eastern Irānians, i. 164 sq. Meyer, Xenophon, Cyri Institutio, i. 6. 33. Geschichte des Alterthums, i. 534, © Rawlinson, in his translation of

Herodotus, i. 262 sq. n. 3.

2 $99:

XXX. 5; XXXVI. 29.






falsehood, not truthfulness, was a national characteristic of the ancient Eranians, to which their noblest men offered fruitless resistance ;' but the facts he quotes in support of his opinion refer to their dealings with foreign nations, and have consequently little bearing on the subject. The modern Persians are notorious liars, who do not even claim to be believed, and smile when detected in a lie. The nomad alone is faithful to his word ; the expression, “ I am a nomad,” means, “ You may trust me.”3

Falsehood is a prevailing vice in other Muhammedan countries also. “ Constant veracity,” says Mr. Lane, “is a virtue extremely rare in modern Egypt”; and a deceitful disposition in commercial transactions is one of the most notorious faults of the Egyptian. Mr. Lane partly ascribes this habit to the influence of Islam, which allows, and even commands, falsehood in certain cases. The common Moslem doctrine is, that a lie is permissible when told in order to save one's own life, or to reconcile persons at variance with each other, or to please or persuade one's wife, or to obtain any advantage in a war with the enemies of the faith. But in other cases lying was highly reprobated by the Prophet ; and that the people have not forgotten its sinfulness appears from the phrase, “ No, I beg forgiveness of God, it was so and so,” which they seldom omit when retracting an unintentional mis-statement. I think it is erroneous to regard the want of truthfulness among Muhammedan nations as a result of their religion. The Eastern Christians and Buddhists are no less addicted to falsehood than the Muhammedans.

The Homeric poems make us acquainted with gods and men who have recourse to fraud and lying whenever it suits their

purpose. The great Zeus makes no difficulty Spiegel, op. cit. ii. 686.

5 Lane, Modern Egyptians, i. 383. 2 Polak, Persien, i. Wallin, Muir, life of Mahomet, i. p. Ixxiii. Reseanteckningar från Orienten, iv. 192, 247. Wilson, Persian Life and 6 Lane, Modern Egyptians, i. 383 sq. Customs, p. 229 599:

[ocr errors]



7 Vámbéry, Der Islam im neun. 3 Polak, op. cit. ii. 95.

sehnten Jahrhundert, p. 232. 4 Lane, Manners and Customs of the 8 Cf. Kames, Sketches of the History Modern Egyptians, i. 382 sq. C: of Man, iv. 150 sq. ; Mahaffy, Social Burckhardt, Arabic Proverbs, p. 100. Life in Greece, p. 26 599.


sq. n. t.




in sending a lying dream to Agamemnon. Pallas Athene is guilty of gross deceit and treachery to Hector ; she expressly recommends dissimulation, and loves Odysseus on account of his deceitful character. No man deals more in feigned stories than this master of cunning, who makes a boast of his falsehood.? In the period which lies between the Homeric age and the Persian wars veracity made perhaps some progress among the Greeks, but it never became one of their national virtues. Yet in the Greek literature deceit is frequently condemned as a vice, and truthfulness praised as a virtue.Achilles expresses his horror of lying. “ Not to tell a lie,” was one of the maxims of Solon. Pindar strongly censures a character like that of Odysseus, and ends up his eulogy on Psaumis by the assurance that he never would contaminate his speech with a lie. According to Pythagoras, men become like gods when they speak the truth. According to Plato, the habit of lying makes the soul ugly "1 ; “ truth is the beginning of every good thing, both to gods and men.'

Yet a distinction should be made between different kinds of untruth. Though the many are too fond of saying that at proper times and places falsehood may often be right, it must be admitted that a lie is in certain cases useful and not hateful, as in dealing with enemies, or when those whom we call our friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going to do some harm.14 Moreover, the rulers of the State are allowed to lie for the public good, just as physicians make use of medicines ; and they will find a considerable dose of falsehood and deceit necessary for this purpose. On the other hand, if the ruler catches anybody besides himself lying in the



[ocr errors]



1 Odyssey, xiii. 331 sq. ? Ibid. ix. 19 sq.

* Schmidt, Die Ethik der alten Griechen, ii. 413.

Cf. Thucydides, iii. 83.

See Schmidt, op. cit. ii. 403 599. 6 Iliad, ix. 312 sq.

· Diogenes Laertius, Vita philoso. phorum, i. 2 (60),

8 Pindar, Nemea, viii. 26. 9 Idem, Olympia, iv. 17. 10 Stobæus, op. cit. xi. 25, vol. i. 312. 11 Plato, Gorgias, p. 524 sa. 12 Idem, Leges, v. 730. 13 Ibid. xi. 916. 14 Plato, Respublica, ii. 382. 15 Ibid. iii. 389: v. 459.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

State, he will punish him for introducing a practice “which is equally subversive and destructive of ships or State.” 1 Next to him who takes a false oath, he who tells a falsehood in the presence of his superiors—elders, parents, or rulers—is most hateful to the gods.?

Not without reason did the Romans of the republican age contrast their own fides with the mendacity of the Greeks and the perfidy of the Phænicians.

“ The goddess of faith (of human and social faith),” says Gibbon, “was worshipped, not only in her temples, but in the lives of the Romans; and if that nation was deficient in the more amiable qualities of benevolence and generosity, they astonished the Greeks by their sincere and simple performance of the most burdensome engagements. Their annals are adorned with signal examples of uprightness, which, though to a great extent fictitious, yet bear testimony to the estimation in which that quality was held.* The Greeks had no Regulus who “ chose to deliver himself up to a cruel death rather than to falsify his word to the enemy.

” 5 The basest forms of falsehood were severely punished by law. According to the Twelve Tables, anyone who had slandered or libelled another by imputing to him a wrongful or immoral act, was to be scourged to death, and capital punishment was also inflicted on false witnesses ? and corrupt judges. However, already before the end of the Republic dishonesty, perjuries, and forgeries became common in Rome.”

The ancient Scandinavians considered it disgraceful for a man to tell a lie, to break a promise, or to commit a treacherous act. To kill or rob openly was a pardonable offence, if an offence at all ; but he who did it secretly was a nithinger, a “hateful man,” unless indeed he after1 Plato, Respublica, iii. 389.

7 Ibid. viii. 23.

Aulus Gellius, 2 Idem, Leges, . xi. 917. Idem, Noctes Attica, xx. i. 53. Respublica, iii. 389.

8 Ler Duodecim Tabularum, ix. 3. 3 Gibbon, History of the Decline and Aulus Gellius, op. cit. xx. i. 7. Fall of the Roman Empire, v. 311. 9 Inge, op. cit. p. 35.

+ Cf. Inge, Society in Rome under 10 Maurer, Bekehrung des Norwe. the Cesars, p. 33 sq.

gischen Stammes, ii. 154,183 sq. Rosen. 5 Cicero, De officiis, i. 13.

berg, Nordboernes Aandsliv, i. 487. 6 Lex Duodde im Tabularum, viii. 1.






wards openly declared his deed." In the Irish Senchus Mór it is said that not only false witness, but lying in general, deprives the guilty person of “ half his honourprice up to the third time”;? and, according to the commentary to the Book of Aicill, the double of his own full honour-price is due from each person who commits the crime of secret murder.3

In the Old Testament there are recorded, from the patriarchal age, some cases of lying, which, far from being condemned, in no way prevented the liar being a special object of divine favour. It must be admitted, however, that undue importance has been attached to some of these acts of falsehood," which were committed among foreigners with a view to escaping an impending danger. For instance, when Isaac, dwelling in Gerar, said of his wife that she was his sister, for fear lest the men of the place should kill him,he did a thing which few conscientious men under similar circumstances would hesitate to do. As for Jacob's long course of double-dealing with his fatherin-law, who was equally greedy and unscrupulous, it should be remembered that they were natives of different lands.” Again, when Jacob, at the instigation of his mother, grossly deceived his own blind father, the intriguers, as has been pointed out, manifestly felt that the blessing extorted from Isaac ought to descend upon Jacob rather than upon Esau, and inasmuch as the word of the father was held to carry with it divine validity and potency, the securing of it by fair means or foul was deemed an urgent necessity. It is obvious that the ancient Hebrews did not condemn deceit as wrong in the abstract, and that they were very unscrupulous in the use of means. When

1 Wilda, Strafrecht der Germanen, p. E.g., by McCurdy, ‘Moral Evolu569. Nordström, Bidrag till den svenska tion of the Old Testament,' in Amerisamhälls-jörfattningens historia, ii. can Journal of Theology, i. 665 sq. ; 320 sqq. Keyser, Efterladte Skrifter, von Jhering, Zweck im Recht, ii. 606 ii, pt. i. 361. Rosenberg, Nordboernes sq. ; Spencer, Principles of Ethics, i. Aandsliv, i. 487. von Amira, • Recht,' in Paul's Grundriss der germanischen 5 Genesis, xii. 12 sq. ; xx. 2. Philologie, ii. pt. ii. 173.

6 Ibid. xxvi. 7. 3 Ancient Laws of Ireland, i. 57.

7 Ibid. ch. xxix. 99. 3 Ibid. iii. 99.

8 McCurdy, loc. cit. p. 666. VOL. II

[ocr errors]




« ͹˹Թõ