Synopses & Reviews
In considering the extraordinary culture of the Aztecs of Mexico it is impossible to ignore the extravagance of their practice of the ritual killing of humans. Inga Clendinnen renders those killings intelligible through investigation of a wide field of social action: the routines, assumptions, and compelling experiences of daily life at all the emotional, moral, and aesthetic levels through which Aztecs sought to understand their world and identify its necessities. The enquiry is first pursued through the provenance and techniques of management of the victims, seeking the various grounds for their acquiescence. The massive material solidity of the late imperial city is explored to illuminate Aztec notions of temporality and change. Clendinnen then gives close attention to specific social organizations, tracing their distinctive forms of internal cohesion with their attendant tensions, and their unobvious connections with other social structures. Clendinnen discusses the worlds of women, of warriors, of priests, and of commoners, showing us that the mundane aspects of their lives in fact often had tremendous significance. Similarly, a wide zone of "art" is investigated for its intimations of the sacred and the real. The whole culminates in an analysis and interpretation of high Aztec ritual and its meanings for participants and watchers alike.
Inga Clendinnen creates a vivid and dramatic picture of life in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, once the nerve centre of the Aztec tribute empire. She explores the worlds of Aztec women, of priests and of warriors, in an extraordinary recreation of everyday life in the city. Contrasting the beauty and sophistication of Aztec culture with the savagery of human sacrifice, she attempts to explain the philosophy, rituals, and social structures that underpinned this remarkable empire.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Part I. The City: 1. Tenochtitlan: the public image; 2. Local perspectives; Part II. Roles: 3. Victims; 4. Warriors, priests and merchants; 5. The masculine self discovered; 6. Wives; 7. Mothers; 8. The female being revealed; Part III. The Sacred: 9. Aesthetics; 10. Ritual: the world transformed, the world revealed; Part IV. 11. Defeat; Epilogue; A question of sources; Monthly ceremonies of the seasonal calendar; The Mexica pantheon; Notes; Select Bibliography; Index.