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The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico
 
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Location : Central Oklahoma

PostSubject: Indigenous Literature   Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:16 am

The literary "remains" that have survived the Conquest and the intervening years are not as well known as the sculpture and architecture of ancient Mexico, but they are surprisingly rich andabundant. As we have seen, the Aztecs, Mayas and other peoples had their own modes of writing, and some of the pre-Conquest codices are still in existence. In addition, the system of memorization employed in the calmecac and telpochcalli preserved many of the ancient hymns, myths, epic narratives and other literary compositions. It is true that the Spanish conquistadors - along with certain churchmen - burned almost all of the codices and destroyed the pre-Hispanic centers of education. But a few remarkable missionaries, particularly Bernardino de Sahagunand Diego de Duran, undertook to gather up whatever they could of indigenous literature. They managed to acquire a few codices that had escaped the flames, but their major accomplishment was to save a great many of the old songs and narratives that were still faithfully remembered after the Conquest. They worked out means of writing the native languages with the Latin alphabet, and this enabled them- and their Indian pupils -to record the texts in the original words.

Dr. Angel Maria Garibay K., the most important modern authority on pre-Hispanic literature, has shown that more than forty manuscripts containing Aztec literature are extant in various European and American libraries. They offer a broad range of literary types: religious, lyric, epicand dramatic poetry, and prose history, legends, moral teachings, etc. Some of them also present poems and prose narratives describing the Conquest, written or dictated in Nahuatl by persons who witnessed that tragic drama with their own eyes, and the major part of this book is madeup of selections from these indigenous accounts. The Appendix gives a brief description of the main sources from which we have drawn.

Pronunciation of Nahuatl Words

The Nahuatl language, which is also known as Aztec or Mexican, is part of the great Uto-Aztec linguistic family. It has been spoken in central and southern Mexico, as well as in various parts of Central America, from Toltec times to the present.
Written Nahuatl, using the Latin alphabet, was introduced by the Spanish missionaries soon after the Conquest. With the exception of x, which is pronounced like the English sh, the letters have the same phonetic value as in Spanish.
Practically all Nahuatl words are accented on the next to last syllable. This is often indicated today by accents used according to rules of Spanish accentuation.

Posted by Steel Here at 21:25
Labels: Conquest of one of the greatest civilizations in pre-Columbian America
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