I talked about this a bit on Thursday last, mostly because I’m researching the Portuguese secret societies for the WIP edit.
Secret societies have always existed, I suspect, from the moment that the guys at the Lascaux Caves refused to let Grog into the cave during painting hours because he wanted to paint humans. And then they excluded Mok for some reason, and pretty soon it was just three guys left–painting in secret, using secret concoctions for paint and burning secret weeds in their fire that made them feel all warm and fuzzy and then suspicious inside.
Portugal has had its share of secret societies, with the Freemasons and the Carbonária both being very influential in their history, the main reason I’ve been researching those two. (I’m not sure how closely tied those two are.)
I am not, BTW, using either group as a scapegoat in my book–I just want to make that clear before the Freemasons show up at my door with large books intending to
pound me with them show me the error of my ways.
But they do make an easy target for writers, mostly because of their secretive nature. (I think the Freemasons specify that they’re ‘esoteric’, not secret.) Dan Brown has had a field day with Opus Dei and the Illuminati, and the various governmental secret police bodies (like the Stasi) have appeared as villains in a lot of literature.
In “The Inner Circle”, Brad Meltzer has two groups both purporting to be the real secret society. How would one even know? And just last night on “Inspector Lewis”, we had a secret society in Oxford that didn’t turn out to be exactly what the newbies hoped. They wanted to be a part of an exclusive group, but…but… (Sorry, no spoilers).
Secret societies are the cannon fodder of fiction, are they not?
So what’s your favorite secret society?