Human Sacrifice Analysis

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Human sacrifice is perhaps one of the most significant themes in the primary source of Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s The History of the Conquest of New Spain. In his volume of Castillo’s eyewitness account, Davíd Carrasco writes two interpretive essays entitled “The Exaggerations of Human Sacrifice” and “Human Sacrifice/Debt Payments from the Aztec Point of View.” As the name suggests, “The Exaggerations of Human Sacrifice” aims to dispute the misrepresentations in Díaz del Castillo’s reports and the bona fide extent in which human violence in the Aztec society was executed. “Human Sacrifice/Debt Payments from the Aztec Point of View” details the Aztecs’ perspective on the ritual killings. Carrasco reasonably argues that the ritual killings of …show more content…
Nextlaoalli means “debt payment” and teotl ixiptla means “deity image.” Carrasco writes, “When the Aztecs ritually kill the Spaniards at the top of the Great Temple they are, in their own eyes, attempting to give new cosmo-magical strength and life nourishment to the two gods who reside there and who are under attack by the Spaniards” (460). The Spanish watched in terror as the Aztecs killed their people as offerings of peace, or nextlaoalli. In their state of uneasiness, the Spanish inflated the amount of people killed in the rituals. Carrasco then proceeds discuss teotl ixiptla, “Díaz del Castillo had no understanding that he was watching the preparatory rituals that, in effect, empty the Spaniards of their human identity and fill them with what the Aztecs thought of ‘divine fire’ or a cosmic being” (461). Since Díaz del Castillo was unaware of the meanings and traditions behind the rituals, he had a tendency to overemphasize the process of them. Carrasco mentions that Díaz del Castillo claimed to see the Aztecs force the Spaniards to dance and put plumes on their heads “from quite a distance” (462). It is not unreasonable to think that the Spanish were overdramatizing the events from the ritual killing for the justification of their actions toward the …show more content…
Using Carrasco’s “The Exaggerations of Human Sacrifice,” I was able to make the argument that the shocking experience of watching the “sacrifices” led the Spanish to exaggerate the number of victims killed. With “Human Sacrifice/Debt Payments from the Aztec Point of View,” I was able to make the argument that the tension in the air and the uncertainties led the Spanish soldiers to put tremendous emphasis on the process of the nextlaoalli. Again, the exaggerations were not made just to justify the actions and aggressions of the Spanish

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