Positive law, at least in progressive societies, is constantly tending to fall behind public opinion, and the expedients adopted for bringing it into harmony therewith are three, viz, legal fictions, equity and statutory legislation.
The Orphic poems also played an important part in the controversies between Christian and pagan writers in the 3rd and 4th centuries after Christ; pagan writers quoted them to show the real meaning of the multitude of gods, while Christians retorted by reference to the obscene and disgraceful fictions by which the former degraded their gods.
In the second half of the 13th century, partly (so far as relates to the Cid) from the above, partly from contemporary Arabic histories, and partly from tradition; the Cronica del Cid, first published in 1512, by Juan de Velorado, abbot of the monastery of San Pedro at Cardena, which is a compilation from the last, interlarded with new fictions due to the piety of the compiler; lastly, various Arabic manuscripts, some of contemporary date, which are examined and their claims weighed in the second volume of Professor Dozy's Recherches sur l'histoire politique et litteraire de l'Espagne pendant le moyen dge (Leiden, 1849).
The theory was purely democratic, but was all ready to be transformed, by means of a series of fictions and implications, into an imperialist doctrine; and in like manner it contained a visionary plan of reformation which ended, not in the separation of the church from the state, but in the subjection of the church to the state.
With this mention Prester John ceases to have any pretension to historical existence in Asia (for we need not turn aside to Mandeville's fabulous revival of old stories or to the barefaced fictions of his contemporary, John of Hese, which bring in the old tales of the miraculous body of St Thomas), and his connexion with that quarter of the world gradually died out of the memory of Europe.(fn 3) When next we begin to hear his name it is as an African, not as an Asiatic prince; and the personage so styled is in fact the Christian king of Abyssinia.