Inspired by a recent meta question, which I had to write in English for lack of appropriate Latin vocabulary:

A "sockpuppet", on the internet, is an alternate identity someone creates for nefarious purposes. These identities might be used to avoid bans, to affect voting, or to make it look like the "puppetmaster" has more people backing them than they actually do.

The Romans didn't have the internet, of course, but it's easy to imagine a corrupt politician paying a dozen people off the street to give pre-written speeches at a trial. If someone tried this, what would those "proxies" be called?

2 Answers 2


I suggest, primarily, corruptor, which Smith's translates as 'undoer, misleader, corrupter, seducer, briber', any of which seems to bear the right kind of coonotation.

Also possible is testis falsus or testis corruptus, 'false witness', each of which is listed in Pyper's 'Gradus'. The first of these occurs in the Vulgate (Proverbs 19:5), testis falsus non erit inpunitus et qui mendacia loquitur non effugiet and is also found in the Ten Commandments.

At a pinch, (and again according to Smith's) one might use allector, 'one who entices or allures'.


I would suggest pupula fallax. Pupulus and pupula mean a puppet, and fallax ("deceptive", "deceitful") captures the nature of puppetry quite well.

The English word does not literally refer to anything nefarious. As I am not aware of a Latin word that carries a suitable connotation, some amount of explanation is in order. Therefore I added fallax.

Choosing pupula over pupulus was based on it sounding better. That might have to do with the feminine one fitting hexametric rhythm.

I am not sure what political proxies were called, but I think a puppet is a good term for the online phenomenon.

  • Even though the analogy is simple and direct, I still think puppet is an idiom. I wonder if a corrupt Roman senator would use puppets for his purposes or something else...
    – Rafael
    Jun 17, 2019 at 17:52
  • 1
    @Rafael I agree, and hence the last paragraph. I'm not sure it's a good choice of words for the political use, but for the online thing I find "puppet" to be an excellent word. I would like to learn what the political "puppet" would be in Latin.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 17, 2019 at 18:48

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