The Nahua Narrative Analysis Essay

The Nahua Narrative Analysis Essay

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There are a number of reasons the Nahua might have omitted Christianity from their section of the Florentine Codex. Among these reasons a few stand out and merit further exploration. The Nahua narrative may have been closer to the truth than Cortes' account; he may have overplayed the Christian side of the conquest to make it appear more humane. Perhaps Sahagun initially censored sections about Christianity. On the other hand, the Nahua may not have seen it as a main factor in the conquest.
Many places in Book XII the Nahua refer to instances where Cortes is very cruel to the natives. This is in sharp contrast to a more peaceful conversion that he described at times. The Nahua writes use a very flowery writing style to convey their ideas. Often when translated to Spanish these passages are made short, crisp and much less brutal. One example raised in a paper by Kevin Terraciano on pg. 61 occurs when the codex describes how the Spanish sacked a Calacoyan. The Nahua say, “They started killing and stabbing people. They did not give notice to the people of Calacoyan; unexpectedly they were killed. The Spaniards took out their rage on them, vented their wrath on them when they had done the killing.1” When translated to Spanish this passage reads “They destroyed that whole settlement.2” This passage shows how significant the changes into Spanish could be. In another section, the Nahua describe the Spanish reaction to gold as animal like. How they grabbed at it like monkeys, as if they were starved. The Spanish twisted this to say that the natives observed the Spanish “rejoicing over the gold, which they held in high esteem.3” Another much more pro-Spanish interpretation of the Nahua text. Patterns such as this support the idea that t...


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...sualty counts, however I think some of this has to be due to the significance the artists put on showing the suffering of the Nahua. Alternatively, we can see that we fail to understand the complex nuances of Nahuatl even today. For example the meaning of teotl is not fully understood. When used to refer to Cortes and the conquistadors it has generally been taken to mean “god.” Many books show this by saying that the Aztecs viewed the Spaniards as gods. However, more recent scholarship has shown the meaning of teotl to be more abstract. Its connotations reach to more abstract ideas such as “beyond the ordinary8” or “fine, fancy, large, powerful and so on.9” It seems likely that the Spanish took teotl to be the analogue of dios, which strictly means god, in the Judaeo-Christian sense. While was not an inaccurate use of the word, it is not the only way it could be used.

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