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Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the intentional act of swearing a false oath or of falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to an official proceeding.


  • Qui semel a veritate deflexit, hic non majore religione ad perjurium quam ad mendacium perduci consuevit.
    • He who has once deviated from the truth, usually commits perjury with as little scruple as he would tell a lie.
    • Cicero, Oratio Pro Quinto Roscio Comœdo, XX.
  • And hast thou sworn on every slight, pretence,
    Till perjuries are common as bad pence,
    While thousands, careless of the damning sin,
    Kiss the book's outside, who ne'er look'd within?
    • William Cowper, Expostulation, line 384; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 563.
  • It is not possible to found a lasting power upon injustice, perjury, and treachery.
    • Demosthenes, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 455.
  • My suit has nothing to do with the assault, or battery, or poisoning, but is about three goats, which, I complain, have been stolen by my neighbor. This the judge desires to have proved to him; but you, with swelling words and extravagant gestures, dilate on the Battle of Cannæ, the Mithridatic war, and the perjuries of the insensate Carthaginians, the Syllæ, the Marii, and the Mucii. It is time, Postumus, to say something about my three goats.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book VI, Epigram 19; in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 411-12.
  • It is not uncommon for ignorant and corrupt men to falsely charge others with doing what they imagine that they themselves, in their narrow minds and experience, would have done under the circumstances of a given case, and the surest check, often the only check, on such perjury, is to recognize the impossibility that men of larger instruction and resources and experience could have been guilty of such conduct.
  • Iuppiter ex alto periuria ridet amantum.
    • Jupiter from on high smiles down on lovers' perjuries.
    • Variant: Jupiter from above laughs at lovers' perjuries.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) (2 A.D.), I, 633.
  • Nec iurare time: veneris periuria venti
    inrita per terras et freta summa ferunt.
    gratia magna Iovi: vetuit Pater ipse valere,
    iurasset cupide quidquid ineptus amor.
    • Be not afraid to swear. Null and void are the perjuries of love; the winds bear them ineffective over land and the face of the sea. Great thanks to Jove! The Sire himself has decreed no oath should stand that love has taken in the folly of desire.
    • Tibullus, Elegies, translation by J. P. Postgate in the Loeb Classical Library (London: William Heinemann, [1913] 1962), Bk. 1, no. 4, line 21.

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