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Florentine Codex: Book 2
General History of the Things of New Spain
Bernardino de Sahagún
Translated from the Nahuatl with notes by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble
Two of the world’s leading scholars of the Aztec language and culture have translated Sahagún’s monumental and encyclopedic study of native life in Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest. This immense undertaking is the first complete translation into any language of Sahagún’s Nahuatl text, and represents one of the most distinguished contributions in the fields of anthropology, ethnography, and linguistics.
Written between 1540 and 1585, the Florentine Codex (so named because the manuscript has been part of the Laurentian Library’s collections since at least 1791) is the most authoritative statement we have of the Aztecs’ lifeways and traditions—a rich and intimate yet panoramic view of a doomed people.
The Florentine Codex is divided by subject area into twelve books and includes over 2,000 illustrations drawn by Nahua artists in the sixteenth century.
Book Two gives comprehensive accounts of the religious ceremonies and days of feasting during the time of the Aztecs, including prayers, songs, and the duties and roles of Aztecs inside the temples during the ceremonies. This book also details the various tributes and sacrifices given to specific gods.
Arthur J. O. Anderson (1907–1996) was an anthropologist specializing in Aztec culture and language. He received his MA from Claremont College and his PhD in anthropology from the University of Southern California. He was a curator of history and director of publications at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe and taught at a number of institutions, including San Diego State University, from which he retired.
Charles E. Dibble (1909–2002) was an anthropologist, linguist, and scholar specializing in Mesoamerican cultures. He received his master’s and doctorate degrees from the Universidad Nacional Autónomo de México and taught at the University of Utah from 1939–1978, where he became a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology.
For their work on the Florentine Codex, both Dibble and Anderson received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor of the Mexican government; from the King of Spain the received the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica) and the title of Commander (Comendador).
Table of Contents:
1. Concerning the calendar and the feasts of fixed date
4. Uei toçoztli
8. Uei tecuilhuitl
10. Xocotl uetzi
12. Teotl eco
19. [Nemontemi and the movable feasts]
20. Telleth of the feast day and the debt-payment which they celebrated during all the days of the month
21. Telleth of the honors and the debt-payment which they used to render at the time of the entire second month
22. In which are described the feast day and the debt-paying which they celebrated in the second month
23. Telleth of the feast day and of the honors which they performed during all the days of the fourth month
24. Relateth the feast and the debt-paying which was celebrated during all the days of the fifth month
25. Telleth of the feast and of their offerings which they made during all the days of the sixth month
26. In which are related the feast day and the honors done during all the days of the seventh month
27. Telleth of the feast day and of the debt-paying which they celebrated during all the days of the eighth month
28. Telleth of the feast and of the offerings which they made during all the days of the ninth month
29. In which are named the feast and debt-paying which they celebrated during all the days of the tenth month
30. Here are related the feasts and the honors observed during all the days of the eleventh month
31. Telleth of the feast and the debt-paying which were observed during all the days of the twelfth month
32. In which are related the feast day and the debt-paying which were observed during all the days of the thirteenth month
33. In which are related the feast day and the debt-paying with which they gave service, which they observed during all the days of the fourteenth month
34. Telleth of the feasts and the debt-paying which were observed during all the days of fifteenth month
35. Telleth of the feast day and the honors which they observed during all the sixteenth month
36. Where are related the feast day and the debt-paying which were observed during all the days of the seventeenth month
37. Telleth of the feasts and honors performed during all the days of the eighteenth month
38. Telleth of the feast which named Uauhquiltamalqualiztli [The Eating of Tamales Stuffed With Amaranth Greens]
Appendix to the Second Book
Temple of Uitzilpochtli Coatepetl
Here is described the feast which was observed every eight years
Behold here a true [relation] of all the [buildings] which were Mexicans' temples
Here is told in what manner the Mexicans made offerings and what they made as offerings in their temples
Here are told the various modes in which blood was shed [and] offered
Here are told, in very truth, the offerings which they made, with which they paid honor to the devil
A declaration of still other offerings with which similarly they paid honor to the devil
A declaration of all those who served in the homes of each of the gods
A declaration of how the sun was served, and of how many times trumpets were blown during the day and during the night, and of how many times incense was offered
A declaration of the training or the labors which were done in the temples, in the devils' houses
A declaration of how the devils were prayed to, and how oaths were made
Here is told what the songs of the devils were, with which they paid honor to them within their temples and indeed without
An account of how the women served there in the temples
Praise and Reviews:
“Highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries.”
“A great scholarly enterprise.”
—New Mexico Historical Review
“Bringing the knowledge of modern scholarship to bear on their materials, the translators have been able to illuminate many obscurities in the text. The complete series of volumes is a landmark of scholarly achievement.”
—The New Mexican
“This publication of Sahagún makes available to scholars and their students alike the original Nahuatl text for comparison with the more easily accessible Spanish text, which is in many places merely an abridgment or précis of the original. A whole series of native sources for the study of Mexican pre-conquest history is now at hand for a field of historical study formerly restricted to a small number of investigators. A whole chapter of the cultural history of early Colonial Mexico is unfolding before us. [The Codex is] an impressive monument to Spanish humanism in the sixteenth-century New World.”
—The Hispanic American Historical Review
“Sahagún emerges as the indisputable founder of ethnographic science. The accomplishments of the joint translators, Dibble and Anderson, will surely rank among the greatest achievements of American ethnohistorical scholarship.”