Aztec Indians 2 Essay Research Paper Introduction

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Aztec Indians 2 Essay, Research Paper Introduction to the People of the Sun The sun is a visible, astronomical fact – “the one immutable fact of existence, the source of all life on earth.” It journeys overhead from east to west by day, dips into darkness, and by night travels underground west to east to rise triumphantly again at dawn – the start of a new day (Waters 203). The sun has been the focal point of energy and worship in many cultures throughout the world. The Aztecs were one culture that used the light of the sun to triumph over the Central Valley of Mexico. The Aztecs were indeed “the people of the sun”. The Aztecs rotated their lives and structured their society around the spirit of the sun. In respect of the Aztec origin, this paper will center

it’s interpretations around the rays of the sun. The sun seems to be the root from which the Aztec culture grew and produced. Warfare and human sacrifice provided the function of replenishing that root. The first section of this paper will illustrate three myths centered around the sun. The proceeding section will show how these myths helped structure the Aztec society. I. Myths Of The Aztecs In order to understand the Aztec civilization as a whole, it is necessary to look at the role myths played in developing and maintaining the Aztec way of life. Myths are a mixture of historical fact and fiction which can be used to explain the structure of social and political organization, and the significance of warfare and human sacrifice among the Aztecs. Myths will provide a gateway

into the complexities of the Aztec way of life. Smith raises an important point in that the Aztecs had a number of different, even contradictory, myths describing the creation of the world, the gods, and it’s people (205). There are indeed numerous myths that can be interpreted as being the reason why the Aztecs lived the life that they did. The fact of the matter is that no one myth or combination of beliefs can truly explain the complexities of a society that existed centuries ago. The way of life of the Aztecs was culturally constructed and anyone outside of that culture can only unravel interpretations. This paper will center interpretations around myths of the sun. The Four Suns At the beginning of creation there was an original “two-deity” high god, Ometeotl, who

existed in both male form and female form. This couple produced four sons: Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, Quetzalcoatl, and Huitzilopochtli. With the births of these four gods, a cycle of creation and destruction began that continues to the present day. In the following Michael Smith illustrates this cycle of the four sons: There have been four previous ages or “suns”, each controlled by a different god and peopled by a distinctive race. Each sun was destroyed by a different cataclysm. The god Tezcatlipoca presided over the first sun, when a race of giants roamed the earth. This sun was destroyed by jaguars who ate the giants and destroyed the earth. During the second sun, presided over by Quetzalcoatl, humans who lived on acorns populated the earth. This sun was destroyed by

hurricanes, and the people were transformed into monkeys. People of the third sun, under the god Tlaloc, ate aquatic seeds. The world was destroyed by a fiery rain and humans were turned into dogs, turkeys, and butterflies. The fourth sun, presided over by Clalchiuhtlicue, was a time of gathers who ate wild seeds. They were turned into fish in a great flood. (Smith 205) This cycle of creation and destruction brings us to the present reigning fifth sun. It’s governing deity is Tonatiuh and its people are maize-eaters. According to Aztec myth, this world too will be destroyed, by earthquakes, and its people will be devoured by sky monsters. The destruction of a world age or sun can only come at the end of a 52- year cycle known as the calendar round, but the number of cycles that