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This chapter sketches two distinct modes of engagement pursued jointly by Franciscans and Nahua scholars as they produced a printed and manuscript corpus that spans the decades between the 1550s and the 1620s, which was impacted by censure and increasingly orthodox evangelization policies. It plumbs into the Nahua-Franciscan confidential mode to reveal a previously unknown work: a Nahuatl-language adaptation, by the Franciscan Alonso de Molina and one or more Nahua co-authors, of ‘On the Government of a Polity,’ a political treatise by the fifteenth-century theologian Denys the Carthusian. The chapter argues this translation was part of several attempts to test the boundaries of what Counter-Reformation policies allowed not only to be printed, but also to be circulated in manuscript form among indigenous colonial subjects.
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Tavárez, David. 2019. "Aristotelian Politics Among the Aztecs: A Nahuatl Adaptation of a Treatise by
Denys the Carthusian." In Transnational Perspectives on the Conquest and Colonization of
Latin America, ed. Jenny Mander, David Midgley, and Christine Beaule. 141-155. New York:
Routledge.
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11 Aristotelian Politics Among the Aztecs
A Nahuatl Adaptation of a Treatise by
Denys the Carthusian
1
David Tavárez
When the rst Franciscans arrived in Central Mexico in 1523 and 1524, they
could hardly imagine that, only two decades later, they and a select group of
indigenous Christians would be enmeshed in colonial scholarly projects
regarding catechesis and theology. Such exchanges were made possible by the
close engagement of a rst generation of native intellectuals with the liberal
arts, Latin prose, theological discourses, and with the works of Greek and
Roman authors (see, for instance, Osorio Romero 1990; Weckmann 1992;
Pérez-Rocha and Tena 2000; Laird 2014). Many of these native scholars were
Nahua a term that encompasses Aztecs and other Nahuatl-speaking polities.
But neither Franciscans nor Nahuas could envision that a half century later,
their co-authored works would be regarded as controversial and banned by
the Inquisition.
This chapter sketches two distinct modes of engagement pursued jointly by
Franciscans and Nahua scholars as they produced a printed and manuscript
corpus that spans the decades between the 1550s and the 1620s, which was
impacted by censure and increasingly orthodox evangelization policies. In
their public mode, mendicant authors (mostly Franciscan) and their Nahua
collaborators appropriated dialogic, reective and meditative devotional
models for a broad Nahua audience. Many of these works took the form of a
dialogue between a student and a teacher, or a believer and Christ and
focused on the Christian self and its relationship to the world, or on Saint
Francis and other spiritual models. On the other hand, a condential mode
focused on transposing into Nahuatl works regarded as suspect, or even dan-
gerous, from the standpoint of the Council of Trent and the Mexican church
councils. These texts, which included an erudite commentary on the Proverbs
of Solomon and two versions of Thomas à KempisImitation of Christ, cir-
culated only in manuscript form. They cited not only biblical sources, but also
works by Greek and Roman authors.
This chapter plumbs into the Nahua-Franciscan condential mode to reveal
a previously unknown work: a Nahuatl-language adaptation, by the Francis-
can Alonso de Molina and one or more Nahua co-authors, of On the Gov-
ernment of a Polity,a political treatise by the fteenth-century theologian
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Denys the Carthusian. I argue this translation was part of several attempts to
test the boundaries of what Counter-Reformation policies allowed not only to
be printed, but also to be circulated in manuscript form among indigenous
colonial subjects. Furthermore, the adaptation of this work infused Nahuatl-
language discourses about good colonial government with political Aris-
totelianism. Such inventive attempts at translation and appropriation, which
were addressed to an implicit elite Nahua audience, placed Franciscan and
Nahua scholars at the forefront of intellectual production in the sixteenth-
century Atlantic world.
Nahua-Franciscan Scholarly Collaborations in the Sixteenth Century
The principal setting for the close collaboration between Franciscan authors
and Nahua intellectuals between 1536 and the late sixteenth century was the
Franciscan Colegio de Santa Cruz at Tlatelolco. This institution, the rst of
its kind in the colonial Americas, provided an education in the trivium Latin
grammar, rhetoric, and logic and the quadrivium arithmetic, geometry,
astronomy, and music to the sons of Nahua and other indigenous elites.
Pupils entered the school around the ages of ten to twelve and were to study
for a period of three years before going back to their communities to employ
their knowledge. The education they received allowed them to serve their
school, while other alumni served as native governors and ocials. In the
1540s and 1550s, Santa Cruz was administered by its alumni, but vice-regal
support was suspended in 1564, and the Franciscans stepped back as admin-
istrators by the early 1570s (Burkhart 1996:5764; Kobayashi 1974; Silver-
Moon 2007).
In 1606, in the preface to his Sermonario en lengua mexicana (Sermons in
the Mexican language), the Franciscan Juan Bautista Viseo (1606, vii rix v)
made a most unusual disclosure. He discussed the activities of eight Nahua
intellectuals who worked as co-authors and assistants for Alonso de Molina,
Bernardino de Sahagún, Jerónimo de Mendieta, Luis Rodríguez, and other
Franciscans who, although highly competent in Nahuatl, did rely on Nahua
intellectual labor. Among these scholars, we count Hernando de Ribas, whose
collaboration with Molina is outlined later; the cantor and Latinist Juan Ber-
nardo of Huexotzinco; the Tlatelolca print composer and translator Diego
Adriano; don Francisco Baptista de Contreras of Cuernavaca, also governor of
Xochimilco, who helped Viseo translate a second version of KempissImita-
tion; and the Tetzcoca Esteban Bravo, who translated Spanish and Latin texts
for Bautista in so orid a manner that Bautista had to rein him in. Don
Antonio Valeriano, a native of Azcapotzalco who served as governor of his
hometown for eight years and indigenous governor of Mexico City for
twenty-three years, was lauded by Bautista as a great Latinist whose ex tem-
pore eloquence was comparable to that of Cicero or Quintilian; the Tlatelolca
Pedro de Gante, named after the Flemish Franciscan, helped Bautista with
translations of saintslives; nally, the Tlatelolca Agustín de la Fuente,
142 David Tavárez
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collaborated with Bernardino de Sahagún, Pedro de Oroz, and later with
Bautista Viseo on various projects.
Why did Bautista Viseo reveal so much in printed form, no less about
Nahua authors? As is well known, early modern authorship did not focus
solely on the work of a single individual. According to Michel Foucaults
famous formula, there was an early modern penal appropriationof the
notion of authorship, which centered on the capacity of the state to hold
accountable and punish those who could be identied as a works authors
(Foucault 1984:108). I propose an important consequence stemming from
Bautista Viseos actions, and two possible motivations. By documenting the
activities of several Franciscan teachers and Nahua intellectuals, Bautista
Viseo allowed them all to be regarded in a public record as authors, in Fou-
caults penal sense. As to motivations, the Sermonario saluted an age coming
to an end, as four Nahua scholars had already passed away (Bernardo in 1594,
Ribas in 1597, and Valeriano and Gante, both in 1605). Furthermore, this text
also announced a new wave of publications to come, spearheaded by Nahuatl
versions of KempissImitation and Diego de EstellasLibro de las vanidades
(Book of the Vanities). But it was a wave frozen in time, as these works were
never printed.
Furthermore, Santa Cruz was renowned for its Latinists, who were initi-
ally schooled by the French Franciscan Arnaldo de Basacio, and who fre-
quently displayed their prowess in their petitions to the Spanish crown. We
have impressive Latin letters authored by don Antonio Cortés Totoqui-
huatzin, don Pablo Nazareo, don Antonio Valeriano, as well as those writ-
ten on behalf of don Pedro Moteuczoma (see Laird 2016; Osorio Romero
1990; Pérez-Rocha and Tena 2000:218222; Pollnitz 2017). Some Nahua
writers had precise knowledge of celebrated classical authors; for instance,
Nazareo cited a passage from OvidsArs amatoria in a letter to Philip II
(Gruzinski 2002:94).
Nahua-Franciscan dialogical works are epitomized by two Nahuatl versions
of Thomas à KempissImitation of Christ (for a discussion of a landmark
1536 translation of this work in Spain, see Tarsé 1942). The rst is a beautiful
illuminated manuscript that was presented to Juan de Ovando by the Fran-
ciscan Jerónimo de Mendieta in 1570 and later gifted to Philip II, who had it
archived at his Royal Library of El Escorial. The second version is a working
copy of the Imitation, now at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence,
Rhode Island. In 1606, the Franciscan Juan Bautista Viseo was on the brink of
printing a second version of this translation, begun by Luis Rodríguez and
completed by Bautista Viseo and Francisco Baptista de Contreras, but it was
never printed (Tavárez 2013a).
Other devotional works that engaged in the Nahua-Franciscan public mode
included Alonso de Molinas1577La vida del bienaventurado sant Francisco
(Life of the Fortunate Saint Francis). As Berenice Alcántara (2013) demon-
strated, Molinas text is based on a strategic adaptation of Saint Bona-
venturesLegenda minor and the Prologue of the Legenda major. In 1605,
Aristotelian Politics Among the Aztecs 143
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Bautista Viseo published another Nahuatl hagiography, this time devoted to
Saint Anthony of Padua. Besides the Imitation, other exemplary dialogues
followed a dialogic model. In 1582, Colloquios de la paz y tra[n]quilidad
Christiana (Dialogues on Christian Peace and Tranquility) appeared under
Juan de Gaonas name, and were based on a collaboration with Nahua scho-
lar Hernando de Ribas. In fact, the Colloquios were held in such esteem that
they were translated into Otomi in the late sixteenth century, perhaps under
the supervision of the Franciscan Alonso de Urbano.
2
We also have Juan de
MijangossEspejo divino, printed in 1607, and reprinted in 1626. This 564-
page work was corrected by the Santa Cruz alumnus Agustín de la Fuente,
and it was constructed as a series of dialogues that deployed sophisticated
Nahua rhetorical devices (Sell 2010:191, 202). Table 11.1 provides information
on all works discussed in this chapter.
Censorship, Suspicion, and Covert Appropriation
In the second half of the sixteenth century, some Nahua-Franciscan scholarly
projects came under closer scrutiny.
3
Before 1559, vernacular translations of
some books of the Bible circulated in Spain. A ban on any vernacular trans-
lations of Scripture was proclaimed by the 1559 inquisitorial Index. The 1559
prohibition was conrmed by a set of regulations issued by Pius IV as part of
his 1564 Index: vernacular translations of the Bible were available only
through written permission from a bishop or inquisitor (Julia 2001).
An important censorship decision arose as the newly established Mexican
Inquisition began monitoring translations of the scriptures in 1577. In that
year, a questionnaire regarding the wisdom of having a translation of Eccle-
siastes in an Indian languagecirculated among a group that included the
Franciscans Molina and Sahagún, and the Dominican Domingo de la Anun-
ciación (Nesvig 2009:15357). The respondents were split by habit: while the
Franciscans argued in favor, Anunciación denounced this translation. In any
case, the two Mexican inquisitorial judges decided to ban a Nahuatl transla-
tion of the Proverbs, which was reputed to be the work of the Franciscan Luis
Rodríguez,
4
who had returned to Spain more than a decade earlier. His co-
religionary Jerónimo de Mendieta stated that Rodríguez, a great speaker of
the Mexican language,called for a new Franciscan chapter two years after
being elected as the twelfth Franciscan provincial in New Spain in 1560
(Códice Franciscano 1941:131). This maneuver allowed him to return to Spain
in 1562 (Vetancurt [1698] 1982:150).
In spite of this inquisitorial ban, a sixteenth-century copy of the Nahuatl
adaptation of the Proverbs of Solomon perhaps the very copy originally con-
scated has survived at the Hispanic Society of America. It contains one half of
the Proverbs (2:1 to 15:23), and features 413 Latin citations, followed by gloss
and commentary in Nahuatl; 337 of these come from the Proverbs alone, and
seventy from other Scripture. In a bold gesture for devotional literature, four
citations from classical authors were included: two from Aristotle, one from
144 David Tavárez
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[correction: Gaona's Dialogues, ca. 1540, 1582]
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Table 11.1 Eleven Nahua-Franciscan scholarly and humanistic works, 1550s1620s
Work Author(s) Date Source Ms. Imprint Archive
Proverbs of Solomon Luis Rodríguez and
others Before 1562? Bible; various Banned in
1577 HSA
On the Manner of Living of
Governors Molina and others
(Ribas?) ca. 1565 De regimine politiae,
Denys the Carthusian Yes BnF
Imitation of Christ Molina and Ribas Before 1570 Kempis Yes Escorial
Imitation of Christ Rodríguez?
Bautista Viseo? ? Kempis Yes JCB
Life of the Fortunate Saint
Francis Molina 1577 St BonaventuresLegenda
minor et major Yes University of
Salamanca
Dialogues on Christian
Peace and Tranquility Gaona and Ribas;
edited by Zárate 1582 Various Yes Various
Dialogues on Christian
Peace and Tranquility in
Otomi
Urbano? 16th century Gaona Yes BnF
Book of Misery Bautista Viseo and
others 1604 GranadasLibro de la
oración Yes Various
Life of Saint Anthony of
Padua Bautista Viseo and
others 1605 Marcos de Lisboas
Chronica Yes Various
Book of the Vanities of the
World Bautista Viseo,
Ribas,
Baptista Contreras
ca. 1606 Diego de EstellasLibro de
las vanidades Not extant
Divine Mirror (Teoyotica
tezcatl) Mijangos, Fuente 1607; reprint
1626 Unknown Yes Various
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[Addition: "Ms. 1477 of the National Library of Mexico contains a later copy of the Nahuatl adaptation of De
regimine politiae (Berenice Alcántara, personal communication, 2019)."]
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Ovid, and one from Publilius Syrus. These Nahuatl Proverbs presented a scho-
larly apparatus for educating Nahuas on how to think about wisdom, prudence,
and restraint, the major themes of the Proverbs (Tavárez 2013b).
Nonetheless, Bautista Viseo later devised a covert appropriation that cir-
cumvented inquisitorial censure, as it was a purportedly original Nahuatl
volume that was, in fact, an adaptation of a work by a controversial but very
popular author, the Dominican Luis de Granada. In 1604, Bautista Viseo
published a work entitled Libro de la miseria y breuedad de la vida del
hombre (On the Misery and Brevity of Mans Life). This work was a Nahuatl
adaptation of Granadas seven nocturnal meditations, from his popular Libro
de la oración y meditación (Book of Prayer and Meditation) of 1554. This
Dominican author published several highly acclaimed contemplative works,
but lived under inquisitorial suspicion. Bautista Viseo avoided disclosing that
his Libro was a Nahuatl version of Granada, for surely the archbishop of
Mexico would never have authorized it (Tavárez 2013a:231232).
Aristotelian Politics for Aztec Lords
This section examines a previously unknown example of a Nahuatl political
treatise that was meant to educate future Nahua rulers using an Aristotelian
model. This work is found among the contents of a sixteenth-century Nahuatl
manuscript written circa 1559, now known as Fonds Mexicain 367 at the
Bibliothèque Nationale de France. It should be attributed to Alonso de Molina
and to his Nahua co-authors, who included, most prominently, Hernando de
Ribas. This work has 594 pages, with 343 numbered folios, although the rst
thirty-two are missing. This is a miscellaneous work composed by several
hands, perhaps nine or ten of them. The rst part of the work contains a
collection of sermons, and it may have an association with Molinas version of
Epistles and Gospels, now missing. The last hand, responsible for more than a
third of the manuscript, authored folios 216r to 343r. On 293v, the copyist
placed the date of 1559. The Nahuatl orthography used in this section, which
features vin lieu of uor uh, j in lieu of word-nal i, and no occurrences of s,
supports the identication of 1559 as a date of production.
The contents of folios 216 through 293 are a draft version of the work that
Molina published in 1578, with the permission of Archbishop Pedro Moya de
Contreras, as Doctrina christiana en lengva mexicana muy necessaria (a much
needed summary of the Christian doctrine in the Mexican language). A com-
parison of the two texts reveals that the FM 367 text lacks some additions
that were made to the nal copy, but contains sections that did not make it
into print. Let us remember that, at this point, Molina had recently published
his 1555 Spanish-Nahuatl vocabulary and had just been named Guardian of
the convent of Tecamachalco during the 1559 Franciscan chapter at Huex-
otzinco (García Icazbalceta 1892, V:273). Among other projects, he was also
working on his Confessionario breve and Confessionario mayor, printed in
1565. Hence, FM 367 may be a collection of texts on which Molina and his
146 David Tavárez
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[correction: "At least seven chapters in this work..."]
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number of commentaries, treatises, and sermons between the early 1430s and
the late 1460s. Among his best-known works, we have his comprehensive
commentaries on Scripture, or Enarrationes. Although he never completed his
doctorate at the University of Cologne, his mystical trances led some of his
later readers to call him doctor ecstaticus, the ecstatic doctor.According to
Turner (1998:224225), Denyss work perceived the coming apart of a mys-
tical model for theological works, and thus marks a last standat the
boundary between late medieval and early modern thought.
De regimine politiae belongs in a category of discourses about politics and
good governance that Anthony Pagden (1987:34, 45) has termed political
Aristotelianism.This discourse, which focuses on the nature of governance
and the virtues that rulers should have, emerged from works by Thomas
Aquinas, and from that of two of his followers, Ptolemy of Lucca and Giles of
Rome. In tracing the meaning of these discourses, Nicolai Rubinstein notes
that Aristotle dened the Greek term politia as a form of government in which
the masses govern the state for the common interest.He also explains that
Lucca also contended that politia is a government best exemplied in Italian
city-states, in which the governors must follow the laws of the city (Rubin-
stein 1987:4950).
Denys was also held in high regard in New Spain: one of the rst works
that came out of the printing press in Mexico City, the rst in the Americas,
was a 1544 adaptation of his treatise on religious processions.
6
Moreover,
several of the works of the Carthusian were at the well-stocked Franciscan
library at Tlatelolco. According to Miguel Mathes (1982), these volumes
may have included his commentaries on the four gospels, on the Psalms, and
on the Pauline letters. In any case, the library had a copy of his Operum
minorum,atwo-volumeeditionprintedinColognein1532thatbearsonits
frontispiece the signature of the Franciscan Juan de Gaona, indicating that
he had reserved it for his own use. Folios 319334 of Volume II of this work
contain On the Government of a Polity, otherwise a relatively obscure work.
This may not be the sole Nahuatl adaptation of works by the Carthusian: a
text discovered by Heréndira Tellez Nieto (personal communication, 2019) is
based on Speculum specularium et mundi huius amatorum, a treatise attributed
to Denys.
Molina and his co-author(s) did not aim for a literal translation of this work,
but presented a broad adaptation of the principal ideas in the political treatise
by the Carthusian. This procedure is illustrated by two excerpts below, drawn
from DenyssOn the Government of a Polity.Therst example shows the
adaptation of an argument regarding a third causefor people to live in a city,
namely self-defense (see Table 11.2).
The second example concernsDenyss fourth (commerce) and fth (mar-
riage) benets that stemmed from the establishment of cities (see Table 11.3).
As can be ascertained from these two brief examples, Molina aimed for a
translation that would be fully understood by a Nahua audience, as he renders
civitas with the term altepetl (literally the couplet the water, the hill), which
148 David Tavárez
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Figure 11.1 First folio of De regimine politiae, by Denys the Carthusian (1532, II:
319r). Work in the public domain.
Source: Image courtesy of the Biblioteca de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
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was the denomination for the most important Nahua sociopolitical entity, or
ethnic state(see Lockhart 1992). The translation of the Latin term civitas as
altepetl in Nahuatl was a translation choice that would later appear in a letter
written in 1561 by don Antonio Valeriano, and in a Nahuatl-language version
of Aesops fables.
7
Moreover, Denyss exaltation of buying, selling, borrow-
ingas good reasons for people to live in a city was rendered into Nahuatl not
as abstract activities, but through those who embody them: sellers and loan
makers.
Most notably, Molina deployed two highly specic terms for merchants,
oztomecah,vanguard merchants,and pochtecah,traveling merchants.
These merchants played complementary roles in the establishment of trade,
intelligence, and political links in far-ung areas of Mexica inuence.
8
Here,
their roles were appropriated to transform a mercantilist description of a city,
in Denyss terms. Molinas intent was to recast Aristotelian political dis-
course, as delivered by the Carthusian, into terms and categories that were
close to the experiences of possible readers like the governors Antonio Valer-
iano, Francisca Baptista de Contreras, and other Nahua elites. Molinas ulti-
mate aim was ambitious: to reimagine a Christian Nahua polity using
fteenth-century political theory.
Table 11.2 Adaptation in translation of an argument by Denys the Carthusian on the
question of self-defense.
Denys the Carthusian (1532, II:
319r)
On the Government of a Polity
FM 367, Molina and Nahua co-authors,
Here is the Manner of Living of the Governors
Liber I, Articulus I: De origine ciui-
tatum et de causis fundationis
earum.
[no corresponding text]
The third cause is so that people
may easily be able to resist their
antagonists,
and defend themselves from their
attacks, so that they may dwell in
safety
[316v] Cap 9. de origine. ciuitu[m] et de causis.
fundationis earum
[317r] Yn cennemiliztli yn necentlaliliztli yn
itoca çiudad ahu yc njcan. tlatollj . moteneva
altepeiolotlj
The life of those who are together, the group-
ing of people, is called city,and with this
word, one says, heart of the altepetl’…
ynic 3. tlamantlj ynic omochiu in vej altepetl.
ca ypanpa inic uel topevalizque.
And the third part: The great altepetl was
made so that they push back their enemies
yn temictiznequi ynteyaovan yejca. ca mie-
quintin yn v<ej> altepetl. ypan yçiuca
q<ui>peva [318r] yn iyaovan.
and wish to kill them, because the many people in
agreataltepetl can quickly vanquish their
enemies.
150 David Tavárez
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Conclusions
Nahua scholarly and humanist works were part of a diverse and broad corpus
of printed and manuscript works. Between the 1540s and the 1630s, about 100
dierent Nahua devotional and linguistic works had been printed, each with
likely print runs in the hundreds. Among these works, most of which focused
on catechesis, sermon delivery, and other pastoral tasks, the very existence of
Nahuatl translations of a work by Denys the Carthusian, the Proverbs, and
Ecclesiastes tested institutional policies regarding the circulation of works
adapted into indigenous languages in late sixteenth-century Spanish Amer-
ica. Having access to Denyss political treatise allowed Nahua readers access
to a work that was not out of place in the curriculum of the Sorbonne,
Bologna, or Cambridge. The opportunity to study the Proverbs in Nahuatl
placed Nahua readers at a vantage point similar to that of a Lutheran who
could read a vernacular translation of Scripture.
Table 11.3 Adaptation in translation of arguments by Denys the Carthusian regarding
commerce and marriage.
Denys the Carthusian (1532, II: 319r-v)
On the Government of a Polity FM 367, Molina and Nahua co-authors,
Here is the Manner of Living of the
Governors
Liber I, Articulus I: De origine ciuita-
tum et de causis fundationis earum.
The fourth cause is so that the
buying, selling, borrowing and leasing
among
people be harmonious, and so that
anyone easily nd what they desire or
need
The fth cause is the communication or
the connection of marriages, for dier-
ent and many people living together
enter together into friendships and
knowledge [of each other],
so that they enter into marriages in a
reciprocal manner. Hence, they love
each other more, and many goods are
gained.
[316v] Cap 9. de origine. ciuitu[m] et de
causis. fundationis earum
ynic 4 yn vej altepetl ypan onnemj in tlana-
macanj in tlacoanj in tetlacuiltianj yn ozto-
meca.
in pochteca.
And the fourth part: In the great altepetl live
sellers, intermediaries, loan makers,
vanguard merchants, traveling merchants.
ahu yn ypanpa<z?> huel nemova. vel
netlayecoltilo
and because of them people live well and are
well provisioned.
ynic. 5 yn oncan. vej altepetl ypan.
miequintin yn mocn<iu>tla teoyotica.
And the fth part: In the great altepetl,
many befriend each other in a divine way
nenamictiliztica in ipanpa. çenca hue<i> yn
neçepan tlaçotlaliztlj
through marriage, because of the great love
of people who are together.
1
Molina ([1571] 1992:68r) also has nenepantlazotlaliztli. The love with which one loves one another.
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Furthermore, mendicant authors and indigenous scholars shaped the
reception of two devotional strands: a rejection of worldly pleasure, or
contemptus mundi,andthedevotio moderna, the meditative and reexive
devotional practices advocated by Kempis and his followers. Regarding the
former, in 1567 the Dominican Pedro de Feria published a doctrinal work in
Valley Zapotec that included a covert adaptation of a section on the impur-
ity of human bodies drawn from GranadasLibro de la oración y meditación
(see Tavárez 2017). But few went further than Bautista Viseo, who boldly
published a Nahuatl adaptation of GranadasLibro in 1604, and also pre-
pared a translation of EstellasLibro de las Vanidades.Astodevotio mod-
erna, besides the Nahuatl adaptations of KempissImitation, Jesuit
missionaries and Japanese converts also produced Japanese translations of
the Imitation and works by Granada between 1596 and the early seventeenth
century (Elison 1988; Moran 1993:187188). Indeed, the Nahua scholars at
Santa Cruz, along with Molina, Rodríguez, and Bautista Viseo, were mem-
bers of an intellectual vanguard. While the Imitation and Granadasvolumes
were popular in the sixteenth century, it was not until after the second half
of the seventeenth century that the Imitation,variousbooksbyGranada,
and other works were adopted into seminary curricula. As shown by
Dominique Julia (2001), this trend is in evidence in France by the late
seventeenth century, and in Spain by the early eighteenth century.
Finally, unlike the Florentine Codex and other chronicles about pre-colonial
Nahua society, in his rendition of the Carthusians work, Molina did not
address a receding Nahua past, but instead looked towards a new social rea-
lity. By merging early modern political theory with Nahua cultural referents,
Molina anticipated an indigenous humanist future when his political treatise
could move from a guarded domain to a public store of works for Nahua
readers. It is no wonder that some of these works were seen with suspicion by
the Inquisition, as they were both Nahua and humanistic in the most
challenging of ways.
Notes
1I thank Christine Beaule, David Midgley, and Jenny Mander for their superb editorial
work and encouragement, and Andrew Laird for reading a draft of this chapter and
generously sharing his insights with me. This chapter is based on two conference papers
(American Society for Ethnohistory, 2014; Legacies of Conquest, 2017). I thank these
eventsaudiences and organizers, and acknowledge the thoughtful feedback of Julia
McClure, Garry Sparks, Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar, and Leo Garofalo.
2Doris Bartholomew analyzed a nineteenth-century copy of an Otomi translation of
the Colloqvios (BNF, Fonds Mexicain 410, 122 .) and suggested it was composed
in the sixteenth century.
3An important development was the censorship by the Bishop of Michoacán of the
Franciscan Maturino Gilbertis moral dialogues in Purépecha in 1559, due to trans-
lation choices that were allegedly incorrect (Archivo General de la Nación [hereafter
AGN], Inquisición vol. 43, no. 6, 197r230v).
152 David Tavárez
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4At this time, a monumental set of manuscripts compiled by Sahagún that addressed
Nahua culture, history, religion, and rhetoric was also conscated (AGN Inquisi-
ción, vol. 450, . 575576, cited in Nesvig, 2009:306).
5Molina [1571] 1992:101v: tepachoani. president or governor.
6Denys the Carthusian, Este es un compendio breve que tracta d[e] la manera de
como se ha[n] de hazer las p[ro]cessiones, Mexico City: Juan Cromberger 1544.
1Molina ([1571] 1992:68r) also has nenepantlazotlaliztli. The love with which one
loves one another.
7I thank Andrew Laird for his feedback regarding this translation choice. For Valer-
ianos letters, see Pérez-Rocha and Tena 2000 and Laird 2014. For Aesop in
Nahuatl, see Kutscher, Brotherston and Vollmer 1987.
8While pochtecah was a more general term for merchants, oztomecah refers to a
group of merchants with a particular origin and mode of operation. While Lock-
hart, Berdan and Anderson (1986:153) dene oztomecatl (singular of oztomecah)as
indigenous merchant,Horn (1997:204206) notes that oztomecah were associated
with a sociopolitical subdivision called tlaxilacalli, and particularly with some sub-
divisions in Coyoacan, while Hassig (1985:117118) depicted oztomecah as van-
guard merchants.
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Article
Full-text available
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