Last week I wrote about Pierre Honoré’s falsified quotation form Pedro Pizarro, in which the author introduced non-existent references to the blond hair of “white” Peruvians. Another of Honoré’s claims, which immediately follows the falsified Pizarro quotation, also struck me as wrong, but I wasn’t able to track down an English translation of Garcilaso de la Vega to prove it. Well, now I have, so it’s time for another round of Alternative Authors’ Fake Quotations.
So let’s welcome today’s contestant, Pierre Honoré, the sometime archaeologist who became a white supremacist hero in 1963 with his In Quest of the White God, a book claiming a widespread ancient civilizing cult of technologically superior white people, which was recently republished by David Childress in 2007. Honoré makes the following claim about Garcilaso de la Vega, the sixteenth century Spanish-Inca author of the Royal Commentaries of Peru, who was taken to a vault containing the mummies of the Inca emperors:
How much of this do you think is true? Let’s turn to an unimpeachable source, Garcilaso de la Vega, whose words Honoré claims to report.
(The standard Livermore translation is substantively the same and does not contradict anything here.)
De la Vega goes on to state that the mummification process was so perfect that the dead looked exactly as they did in life, and that Inca Viracocha (the eighth Great Inca of Cuzco) appeared to him to be an exceedingly old man.
Honoré wants us to accept only some of de la Vega’s testimony—that which is convenient for Honoré—while discounting the most important parts. As is clear from de la Vega’s testimony, the corpse he saw was that of a very old Inca man, not a young, blond Caucasian. This accords with what history tells us of Inca Viracocha, who is believed to have reigned between 1410 and 1438 (and thus his corpse couldn’t have been “centuries” old in 1570). His 28-year reign, ascending the throne as an adult (he was leading men into battle while his father was still king), means that he must have been no younger than his 50s when he died, an old age for pre-Columbian America. According to standard accounts of Inca Viracocha, he was not “very young” at his death but in fact “very old,” as related in Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa’s sixteenth century History of the Incas, compiled from Inca histories on the Spanish Viceroy’s orders.
Thus, on every count except for “snowy” hair, Honoré has distorted, fabricated, or lied about the contents of Garcilaso de la Vega’s account of Inca Viracocha’s corpse. Time and again Honoré distorts the historical record fractionally, just close enough to truth that unless the reader is highly familiar with the primary sources, the fraud is almost undetectable. This cannot be an accident.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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