Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur

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Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur, a Latin phrase, means "The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived."


Various claims have been made as to the phrase's origin:

  • "Mundus vult decipi." Sebastian Franck, Paradoxa Ducenta Octoginta, CCXXXVIII (1542) "The world loves to be deceived."[1]
  • "Au[gu]stin[e], lib. 4. de civitat. Dei, cap. 27. censures ' Scævola saying and acknowledging expedire civitates religione falli, that it was a fit thing cities should be deceived by religion, according to the diverbe, Si mundus vult decipi, decipiatur, if the world will be gulled, let it be gulled, 'tis good howsoever to keep it in subjection." (Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, first published 1621) [2]
  • "The pontifex maximus Scævola thought it expedient that the people should be deceived in religion; and the learned Varro said plainly, that there are many truths, which it is useless for the vulgar to know; and many falsities which it is fit the people should not suppose are falsities. (Note: Vid Augustin. de civ. Dei, B. 4 [...].) Hence comes the adage "Mundus vult decipi, decipiatur ergo."[3]


Some claim that the 1st century satirist Petronius originated this expression, but it appears nowhere in the surviving copies of his work.[4]


  1. ^ Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical), The Macmillan Co., 1906
  2. ^ Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 3, Sect. 4. Memb. 1. Subs. 2. (Nicolas K. Kiessling, Thomas C. Faulkner, Rhonda L. Blair (editors), Oxford University Press, Vol. 3, 1990, p. 347)
  3. ^ Plutarchus, and Theophrastus, on Superstition; with Various Appendices, and a Life of Plutarchus, Daniel Wyttenbach (translator), Printed by Julian Hibbert, No. 1 Fitzroy Place, Kentish Town, 1828, First Appendix: p5
  4. ^ Martínez, Javier, ed. (2012). Mundus vult decipi: Estudios interdisciplinares sobre falsificación textual y literaria. Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-8478827381. Retrieved 8 November 2015.