Warrior, rain-god, and spirit of the maize, Quetzalcoatl-the most familiar of the Mesoamerican gods- is better known for his attributes than for his complex history. Known to the Zapotecs, Olmecs, Toltecs, Mayans, Aztecs, and others, and at times the shared hero of warring peoples, Quetzalcoatl transcends both cultural and chronological barriers. His very name links the earth (coatl, or serpent) with the sky (quetzalli, or precious green feathers).
In this comprehensive study, Enrique Florescano traces the spread of the worship of the Plumed Serpent, and the multiplicity of interpretations that surround the god, by comparing the Palenque inscriptions (ca. A.D. 690), the Vienna Codex (pre-Hispanic conquest), the Historia de los Mexicanos (1531), the Popul Vuh (ca. 1554), and numerous other texts. He also consults and reproduces archeological evidence from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, demonstrating how the myth of Quetzalcoatl extends throughout Mesoamerica.
Chapter topics include the diverse manifestations of Quetzalcoatl, the god as civilizing hero, interpretations of his role in creation stories and other myths, and a comparative study of Quetzalcoatl as one of the offspring of the Mother Goddess similar to divinities such as Dumuzi, Tammuz, Osiris, Adonis, and Persephone, from other classical cultures.
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Number of pages: 312
Weight: 408 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
Florescano... has amassed a wealth of information on the history and cultural significance of Quetzalcoatl. His well-written and scholarly study, nicely translated by Hochroth, presents thorough research into both the archeological record and pre-Hispanic and Spanish written accounts. His in-depth analysis also provides comparisons between Quetzalcoatl and the prehistoric vegetation gods of Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean... Fascinating. * Library Journal *
Florescano has written an outstanding work, synthesizing highly complex data from many sources... A brilliant introduction to the underlying themes of Mesoamerican religion, from 1200 BC to the Spanish invasion, and can be read with profit by all those interested in the mental systems of some of the world's most fascinating civilizations. -- Michael D. Coe * Times Higher Education Supplement *
Florescano's reconstruction and analysis of the mythical narratives dealing with Quetzalcoatl and its equivalent manifestations result in a fascinating account of how myths simultaneously describe, make sense of, and prescribe practices and beliefs, retaining an adaptability that allows for new articulations as historical changes take place. -- Osvaldo Pardo * Revista De Estudios Hispanicos *
A rich and provocative work which will stimulate interest in a central topic of American studies. -- Gordon Brotherston * Journal of Latin American Studies *