According to colonial historiography, in 1519 the Aztecs identified the Spaniards as “gods” (Nahuatl teteoh), an equivocation that eventually precipitated the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. The subject of the conquistadors’ apotheosis has been hotly debated by scholars, especially since the divinization of European invaders would become a reiterated motif of the colonial enterprise around the globe. While the early ecclesiastical chroniclers saw in Hernán Cortés’s purported apotheosis a blasphemous proposition of misguided idolaters, many contemporary postcolonial scholars merely read it as a devious discourse of colonial manipulation. Both assessments stem from an erroneous understanding of the Aztec worldview, which was radically distinct from our own. In this book Molly H. Bassett at last provides a path to understand better the specifically Aztec characteristics of the teteoh and their ritual “embodiments.” Her interdisciplinary approach is comprehensive: with a solid grounding in Nahuatl-language etymology...

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