, Volume 96, Issue 4, pp 541–552 | Cite as

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s ‘Ways of Lying’: Reason of State, Religion and Exemplary Prudence in Part I of the Comentarios Reales

  • Keith David Howard


A handful of recent studies on Inca Garcilaso de la Vega assumes that early modern readers used any number of broad contemporary discourses, literary and otherwise, to mediate between specific historical examples and their own social lives. In other words, these readers actively situated these examples within their own knowledge of these discourses in order to be able to apply them appropriately to their own situations. We may pinpoint which attributes and actions contemporary readers could have understood as imitable by recreating these readers’ process of juxtaposing certain historical figures with the themes found in broader discourses with which they were familiar. The present investigation analyzes how Garcilaso historicizes and exemplifies one of the most widely debated concepts of the post-Machiavellian reason-of-state tradition: mendacity. Through the examples of the first and last Incas, Manco Capac and Atauallpa, Garcilaso demonstrates that mendacity, in one form or another, can produce either positive or negative results for society, depending on the contingency of each particular situation. As part of Garcilaso’s secular, reason-of-state analysis of the foundation of the Inca empire, the example of Manco Capac’s prudence offers readers a surprising lesson: lying, even lying about one’s religion, can be used to bring about the common good.


Inca Garcilaso de la Vega Reason of state Religion Mendacity Prudence 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Modern Languages and LinguisticsFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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