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The Fifth Sun

The Fifth Sun
Aztec Gods, Aztec World
Illustrated by Roy E. Anderson

A study of Aztec religion and mythology.

Series: Texas Pan American Series

January 1979
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
284 pages | 6 x 9 | b&w illus. |

The ancient Aztecs dwelt at the center of a dazzling and complex cosmos. From this position they were acutely receptive to the demands of their gods. The Fifth Sun represents a dramatic overview of the Aztec conception of the universe and the gods who populated it—Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent; Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror; and Huitzilopochtli, the Southern Hummingbird. Burr Cartwright Brundage explores the myths behind these and others in the Aztec pantheon in a way that illuminates both the human and the divine in Aztec life.

The cult of human sacrifice is a pervasive theme in this study. It is a concept that permeated Aztec mythology and was the central preoccupation of the aggressive Aztec state. Another particularly interesting belief explored here is the “mask pool,” whereby gods could exchange regalia and, thus, identities.

This vivid and eminently readable study also covers the use of hallucinogens; cannibalism; the calendars of ancient Mexico; tlachtli, the life-and-death ball game; the flower wars; divine transfiguration; and the evolution of the war god of the Mexica. A splendid introduction to Aztec religion, The Fifth Sun also contains insights for specialists in ethnohistory, mythology, and religion.

  • Introduction
  • 1. The World, the Heavens, and Time
  • 2. Creation and the Role of Paradise
  • 3. The Quality of the Numinous
  • 4. Tezcatlipoca
  • 5. Quetzalcoatl
  • 6. The Making of Huitzilopochtli
  • 7. The Goddesses
  • 8. Man
  • 9. The Nuclear Cult: War, Sacrifice, and Cannibalism
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Burr Cartwright Brundage (1912–1993) was Professor of History at Eckerd College.