Aztec Human Sacrifice Essay

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Human sacrifice was a common practice in early latin american cultures. Many such cultures believed that these sacrifices brought about good luck and pleased their gods, thus the Aztecs emulated these previous and contemporary civilizations, yet far surpassed them in both the number of victims and the brutality which they inflicted upon them. All written evidence of human sacrifice by the Aztecs was written by the Spanish conquistadors, who greatly exaggerated all accounts of human sacrifice to further their agenda of making their conquest of latin america legal. Despite these over exaggerations, human sacrifice was greatly practiced by the Aztecs to inspire both terror and to satisfy their religious beliefs. The Aztecs 's religious ideas …show more content…
The necessity for human sacrifice is directly correlated to the creation story about this cycle of the universe (Young). The Aztecs believed in a cyclical cosmology, similar to the Hindu beliefs, where after the destruction of the past universe a new god or goddess creates the next universe. The Aztecs believed that when this cycle was created the gods had to have a "necessary act of self-sacrifice" by one of them to create the sun, so one god threw himself into the fire to stabilize and give life to the universe. Despite this sacrifice, the sun still wobbled and was unstable, so the wind god blew all the other gods into the sun to nourish it and give stability to the universe. Since the gods gave their lives to stabilize the sun, the Aztecs believed that humans were eternally indebted to them and were required to nourish them with human blood, thus the more sacrifices the more the sun benefits. As well, the Aztecs believed that without human blood the sun would not rise again (Cartwright). The sacrifices to the sun are generally attributed to the god, Tezcatlipoca, who raises the sun physically up into the sky each morning. Another myth is that the god Ethecatl-Quetzalcoatal went to the underworld and created humanity from stolen bones, making the Aztecs believe that they needed to repay the gods for the crime of their …show more content…
The Aztecs would sacrifice human beings for any occasion and the number sacrificed varied greatly. Sometimes one person would be sacrificed and one notable example of more then one is a sacrifice of twenty thousand people after a war to thank the gods for the Aztec 's good fortune ("Religion"). Another example is during one famine ten thousand people were slaughtered to hopefully appease the gods and bring about an end to the famine. How would the Aztecs find enough people to put on such massive ritual sacrifices? The Aztecs would engage in flower wars with certain nearby civilizations just to take in sacrifices. The captured people would be chosen for victims if they fought bravely, were beautiful, or were considered desirable in any way, otherwise they became slaves in the Aztec hierarchy (Young). As well, for the Aztecs if they caught a person in one of these flower wars they would be heaped with rewards for furnishing a victim for the sacrifices, creating a system were wars and human sacrifice were both profitable and religious. The ceremony associated with the Aztec form of human sacrifice, which is all done by the priests, is especially brutal on the victims. The victims are taken up to the top of a temple were four priests hold them down while a fifth priest cuts the sacrifice below the rib cage, while they are still alive,

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