General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 15 Dec 2018/5 Snake
Text Size:

Sky throne sculpture from Veracruz

Click to see the latest Artefact in the Spotlight!

link of the month button
Delightful INAH Mediateca blog with fun artefact animations!
Link to page about the Maya Calendar
Today's Maya date is: 13.0.6.1.5 - 2186 days into the new cycle!
Link to page of interest to teachers
Click to find out how we can help you!

Professor Lori Boornazian Diel

Were there any female rulers? asked The Raleigh School. Read what Professor Lori Boornazian Diel had to say.

Search the Site (type in white box):

Article suitable for older students

WE RECOMMEND
‘The Aztec Image
‘The Aztec Image
in Western Thought’ by Benjamin Keen, Rutgers University Press, 1971: a unique and thorough survey. Several of the quotes on this page are to be found here...
The Aztecs at Mexicolore logo

More quotes on the Aztecs

Well, you love ‘em or you hate ‘em -
We continue our selection of thought-provoking quotes on the Mexica (Aztecs)...
(Compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

‘The Aztecs: A Very Short Introduction’
‘The Aztecs: A Very Short Introduction’

‘The Aztec world presents us with a profound paradox. How could a society so committed to cosmic regeneration through the expansion of warfare and the thrust of the ceremonial knife be so skilled and accomplished in featherwork, poetry, sculpture, and childrearing? ... Although nearly everyone has heard something about the Aztecs’ bloodletting rites, almost no one knows they were renowned wordsmiths and riddlers whose philosophic formulations greatly impressed many Spaniards....’ Davíd Carrasco (‘The Aztecs: A Very Short Introduction’)

‘The Twenty Latin Americas 1’
‘The Twenty Latin Americas 1’

‘The appearance of advanced civilizations in the Mexico Valley was no sudden thing, but the fruit of a long period of development. The Aztecs, the last to arrive, were looked on by other peoples on the Agusco plateau as “people without a face”, for though they too spoke the Nahuatl language, the Aztecs did not really have any culture of their own.’ Marcel Niedgergang (‘The Twenty Latin Americas 1’)

‘Latin America: New World, Third World’
‘Latin America: New World, Third World’

‘The empire of the Aztecs, for all its brilliance and impressive power structure, was based on nothing more solid than ruthless militarism, tax extortion, and ritual genocide. Whether it might have evolved in time into a more civilized and viable polity we can only speculate. The Aztec warrior élite rose to power and maintained it by the obsidian-bladed sword-club and the barbed darts hurled from the atlatl; it went down before the greater power of Toledan steel, the cross-bow and the arquebus, and the pent-up hatred of the peoples they had subjugated.’ Stephen Clissold (‘Latin America New World, Third World’)

‘Repúblicas de Indias: Idolatrías y gobierno en México y Perú’
‘Repúblicas de Indias: Idolatrías y gobierno en México y Perú’

‘When I consider the good regimen of those Indians, it seems to me that they lacked nought of what is required for a goodly commonwealth, for they had natural order in all things and were highly civilised’. Jerónimo Román y Zamora (‘Repúblicas de Indias: Idolatrías y gobierno de México y Perú antes de la Conquista’)

‘Histoire Universelle du Monde’
‘Histoire Universelle du Monde’

In war ‘the Aztecs are the cruelest people imaginable, for they spare no-one, not even their closest relative, and they respect neither age nor sex; they kill and eat all their enemies if they cannot take them into captivity... they were so cannibalistic, so greedy for human flesh, that they disdained all other food in comparison with this meat, and frequently went to war and risked their lives to satisfy their gluttonous appetites. For the rest, they are all sodomites and drunkards.’ François de Belleforest (‘Histoire Universelle du Monde’)

‘Essays’ by Montaigne
‘Essays’ by Montaigne

‘What an amelioration for the entire globe, if the first examples of our conduct that were offered over there had called those peoples to the admiration and imitation of virtue and had set up between them and us a brotherly fellowship and understanding... On the contrary, we took advantage of their ignorance and inexperience to incline them the more easily toward treachery, lewdness, avarice, and every sort of inhumanity and cruelty, after the example and pattern of our ways’. Michel de Montaigne (‘Essays’)

‘The Wealth of Nations’
‘The Wealth of Nations’

‘After all the wonderful tales which have been published concerning the splendid state of those countries in ancient times, whosoever reads, with any degree of sober judgement, the history of their first discovery and conquest, will evidently discover that in arts, agriculture, and commerce, their inhabitants were much more ignorant than the Tartars of the Ukraine are at present’. Adam Smith (‘The Wealth of Nations’)

‘Six Months in Mexico...’
‘Six Months in Mexico...’

[The Aztec Sunstone is] ‘a striking proof of the perfection the nation to which it belonged had attained in some of the sciences:- few persons, even in the most enlightened cities of Europe, at the present day, would be capable of executing such a work’ William Bullock (‘Six Months’ Residence and Travels in Mexico’)

‘The Infidel’, vol. 1
‘The Infidel’, vol. 1

‘The polished character of these barbarous chieftains [of Texcoco], as the world has been taught to esteem them, may be better understood, when we know, that they sowed the roadside with corn for the sustenance of travellers, and the protection of husbandmen, built hospitals and observatories, endowed colleges and formed associations of literature and science, in which, to compare small things with great, as in the learned societies of modern Europe and America, encouragement was given to the study of history, poetry, music, painting, astronomy, and natural magic’. Robert Montgomery Bird (‘The Infidel; or The Fall of Mexico’, 2 vols.)

‘Lectures on the Philosophy of History’
‘Lectures on the Philosophy of History’

‘Of America and its civilisation, especially Mexico and Peru, we have information, but it imports nothing more than that this culture was an entirely natural one, which must expire as soon as Spirit [the West] approached it. America has always shown itself physically and psychically powerless, and still shows itself so.’ G. W. F. Hegel (‘Lectures on the Philosophy of History’)

‘The Decline of the West’
‘The Decline of the West’

‘This is one example of a Culture ended by violent death. It was not starved, suppressed, or thwarted, but murdered in the full glory of unfolding, destroyed like a sunflower whose head is struck off by one passing. All these states, including a world-power and more than one federation - with an extent and resources far superior to those of the Greek and Roman states of Hannibal’s day, with a comprehensive policy, a carefully ordered financial system, and a highly developed legislation, with administrative ideas and economic traditions such as the ministers of Charles V [of Spain] could never have imagined, with a wealth of literature in several languages, an intellectually brilliant and polite society in great cities to which the West could not show a single parallel - all this was not broken down in some desperate war, but washed out by a handful of bandits in a few years, and so entirely that the relics of the population retained not even a memory of it. Of the giant city Tenochtitlan not a stone remains above ground.’ Oswald Spengler (‘The Decline of the West’)

‘Los Indios de México’
‘Los Indios de México’

‘The fact that we restored Teotihuacan or that Father Garibay labours to translate Aztec poems brings no benefit to the Indians, adds not a single tortilla to their daily diet. We adorn ourselves with their jewels, excavate the earth to turn up their ancient artifacts, but we stubbornly ignore their rags, protect the men who steal their lands, fail to punish their exploiters... We have one attitude toward the dead Indians, a very different one toward the living. The dead Indians excite our admiration, stimulate a stream of tourists; the living Indians make us blush with shame, give a hollow ring to our fine words of progress and democracy’ Fernando Benítez (‘Los Indios de México’)

‘The Hummingbird and the Hawk’
‘The Hummingbird and the Hawk’

‘[Following the Spanish invasion] there was substantial change in one area of existence that greatly influenced all the others: they were no longer forced to see their children sacrificed or to fear their own demise on the slab; in the stead of Huitzilopochtli and his male-dominated regime of terror, they found a compassionate Mother Goddess who blessed and saved’ R. C. Padden (‘The Hummingbird and the Hawk’)

‘Historia de la Literatura Nahuatl’
‘Historia de la Literatura Nahuatl’

‘[Following the Spanish invasion] the old social organisation was destroyed. No matter how much we praise it, we cannot compare it to the Christian... The multitude, which suffered the fate of all multitudes, did not greatly regret the loss of the past. No matter how hard the hand of the conquistador, harsher and, above all, much less intelligent, was the tyrant who had kept them in slavery...’ Angel María Garibay K. (‘Historia de la Literature Nahuatl’, 2 vols.

El Aguila y el nopal’
El Aguila y el nopal’

‘Mexico is not now, nor ever will be, an imperialist country. Our mission is not like that of the Romans or the Aztecs to rule over other countries, but instead to live in peace with them... The eagle and the cactus on our banner continue to be our inspiration. We still believe, as the Aztecs did, that it is fundamental that lives be guided by ideals, and those ideals can only be to work together to ensure that good is triumphant. Thus, the old symbol that motivated the Aztecs to cross the northern deserts and plains, until they established the City of the Sun in the middle of the Lake of the Moon is still alive. It continues to fuel our desire to create a great nation that has its centre where the eagle stood on the cactus for the first time’. Alfonso Caso (‘El Aguila y el nopal’).

‘Montezuma’s Dinner’ (essay)
‘Montezuma’s Dinner’ (essay)

‘[The Aztecs were still a] breech cloth people wearing the rag of barbarism as an unmistakable evidence of their condition... There was neither a political society, nor a state, nor any civilisation in America when it was discovered, and, excluding the Eskimos, but one race of Indians, the Red Race.’ Lewis Henry Morgan (‘Montezuma’s Dinner’)

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Apr 05th 2015

Back to original page of quotes

Feedback button