The flute is one of my favorite instruments, especially music written for it in the last century. There is something reflective and ephemeral about it. Here is C.M. Widor's Suite for Piano and Flute.
Empires of Early Latin America (The Maya, the Aztecs, the Incas,) 3 Boxed SET Folio Society by NORMAN HAMMOND NIGEL DAVIES
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have reviewed the Maya earlier and I have not yet read the book about the Incas. This review is about the second book, The Aztecs.
This book was a rewarding read and more enjoyable than the first book on the Mayans. Probably because we have so many more written resources about the Aztecs while the writers of the Mayans had mostly to rely on speculation from what they could glean from artifacts. Consequently their history is sketchy at best.
The Aztecs, however, are well documented and we are treated to how beautiful, sophisticated and also how awful and barbarous these early inhabiters of Mexico and Central America were.
The Aztecs had a large, complex religious system with many gods, but all pointed to a sun god who had to be appeased through human sacrifice. Hundreds of thousands of victims were sacrificed to ensure the sun's daily rising. Most of these sacrifices were conquered people and prisoners of war.
The Aztecs were not a peaceful people and war was a constant necessary, not just for economic reasons, but because the religion and values of the their culture demanded constant glory which was accomplished through warfare, conquest and the sacrifice of humans to their gods.
While there is no doubt that the Aztecs were barbaric, they also possessed an elaborate mythology expressed through poetry, which is as beautiful and sophisticated as anything the ancient Greeks composed.
Nigel Davies does a good job writing in a fluid style that brings the Aztecs to life as well as documenting the succession of leaders, ending with Monteczuma (his spelling) and the final confrontation with the Spanish.
Cortez' diplomacy, where he achieved so brilliantly and where he failed so abysmally is worthy of a book all to itself. The impression the Spanish made to this heretofore cloistered race was astounding. The Spanish did many things right and also many things wrong. People today love to refer to the "Black Legend" which attributes all sorts of atrocities to the Spanish conquistadores. One need look only at how the Aztecs and particularly Monteczuma treated their own people as well as the tribes enslaved in their empire and it is easy to see the Spanish as some sort of judgment passed by God. At least the human sacrifices stopped.
The missionaries also did much good and earned the trust and devotion of many of the tribal members. Not all were perfect as not all the Spanish soldiers were perfect, but howsoever, complicated humans acted in complicated situations, it is now history and Mexico today would not exist as we know it if it did not happen.
In fact, would it exist at all? Was the birth rate of the ancient Indians fast enough to replace the thousands that were daily sacrificed, or would the population have been ultimately self-annihilated?
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