Suicide In Inga Clendinnen's 'Cost Of Courage'

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The ease and dexterity in which Cortes’ Colonists conquered the battle-tested Aztecs goes against any modern doctrine of warfare. Octavio Paz, acclaimed Mexican historian and author of The Labyrinth of Solitude, explains that the Aztec’s encounter with the Spaniards ultimately led to their eventual “suicide” (Paz 93). In this instance, “suicide” means any act or behavior which predisposes oneself to vulnerability or harm. Paz outlines the series of events and cultural views of the Aztecs to paint a landscaping picture of the reasons why a small band of Spanish soldiers were able to subjugate one of greatest Mesoamerican societies of all time. One must start at the crux of the Aztec identity, their culture. In Inga Clendinnen’s Cost of Courage, we find that from the onset of an Aztec’s life, the process of becoming a warrior is under way. Birth is viewed as a “battlefield, where a woman could ‘take a captive’ by capturing a baby” (Clendinnen 64). The individual warrior would be responsible for bringing himself the honor and respect of his people. The subsequent sacrificial offerings to appease the gods, “Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca” would only…show more content…
These people looked very different from their traditional opponents from the north and south. In Lean-Portilla’s The Broken Spear, Cortes’ feathered conquistadors were able to attend a sacred ceremony where the native’s vulnerability would become a reality. Eventually, a futile effort to stop the massacre of celebrants came to a surprising stalemate. The Spanish were able to capture Motecuhzuna and hold him as King in checkmate. Ultimately the weakness and stupefaction of Motecuhzuma was enough to cause the powerful empire to crumble onto the Aztecs. Motecuhzuma’s deputy would sound the formal decree of surrender. Without any formal battle, the indoctrinated Aztec’s followed
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