Florentine Codex, Book 12, Ch 13

This is Book 12, Chapter 13 of the Florentine Codex, also known as the General History of the Things of New Spain. This particular book is about the Spanish invasion of Mexico in 1519 and their eventual consolidation of power in the capital. James Lockhart has provided us with his transcription of the Nahuatl and its translation to English. The facsimile images come from the World Digital Library, but the original is held in the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence, Italy. Brandon Preo has done the data entry, matching the Spanish, Nahuatl, and English texts to the images of the pages.

Principal editor: 
James Lockhart

Transcriptions and Translations

Analytic Transcription English Translation Spanish Translation
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 18v., cont.] Inic matlactli omei capitulo vncā mitoa in quenin Motecuçoma: quimioa oc cequintin tetlachivianime inic quītlachivizquia Espanoles* yoan in tlein vtlica impan muchiuh. Auh ie no centlamantique titlanti; iehoan in tlaciuhq̄ in nanaoalti, yoan tletlenamacaque, no ic iaca, no iciaque in tenamiquizque: auh aocā vel mochiuhque,aoccan vel teittaque, aocmo tlaipantilique, aocmo teipantilique, aocmo onieoatque: çan ie ce tlaoanqui vtlica ica ommotzotzonato, quimonamictito, ica onmixtilquetzato: inic quittaq̄ iuhquin chalcatl ic omochi ---------- *ESPANOLES. As here, the manuscript frequently has the word without a tilde. Henceforth no notice is taken of this variant, which likely represented speech (Nahuatl lacked a palatalized n and often germinated the n instead. [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Thirteenth chapter, where it is said how Moteucçoma sent other sorcerers to cast spells on the Spaniards, and what happened to them on the way. Another group of messengers—rainmakers, witches, and priests—had also gone out for an encounter, but no where were they able to do anything or to get sight of [the Spaniards]; they did not hit their target, they did not find the people they were looking for, they were not sufficient. They just came up against a drunk man in the road; they went to meet him and were dumbfounded at him. The way they saw him, he seemed to be dressed as a Chalcan, [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Chapter Thirteen, of how Moteucçoma sent other sorcerers against the Spaniards and what happened to them on the way. When Moteucçoma learned that the Spaniards were already on their way to Mexico, he sent to meet them many satraps of the idols, soothsayers, enchanters, and necromancers, so that with their enchantments and sorceries they would harm and bewitch them. But they were unable to do anything, nor could their enchantments harm them, nor did they even reach them, because before they did they ran across a drunk man in the road, and they got no farther. It seemed [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 18v., cont.] Capitulo. 13. de como Motecuçoma enbio otros hechizeros contra los españoles camino de mexico embiolos al encuentro muchos satrapas de los ydolos agoreros y encantadores y nigromāticos para que con sus encantamientos y hechizerias los empieciesen y maleficiase y no podieron hazer nada, ni sus encantamientos los pudieron enpecer ni aun llegaron a ellos, porque antes que llegasen a ellos toparon con vn borracho en el camino y no pasaron adelante  parecio 
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 19r.] chiuh, mochalcachichiuh, mochalcanenequi: iuhquin tlaoāqui, mivincanenequi, motlaoācanenequi: chicuei çacamecatl ic melilpi, quimixnamictivitz hiiacac icativitz in Españoles. Auh çan inca ieoac: quimilhui. tle noma amaxtivitze in nicā? tlen oc anquinequi? tle noma quichioaznequi in Motecuçoma? cuix quin omozcali? cuix quin axcan iemomauhticapul? ca otlatlaco, ca oconcavili* in maceoalli, ca otlacaixpolo teca omoquavitec, ca teca omoquimilo,** ca teca omavilti, ca teca omocacaiauh. Auh in o iuh quittaque in, in o iuh quicacque itlatol,oc nen itlan aqui, in quimocnotlatlauhtilia, quitlalilitivetzque ichiel itlalmomoz, yoan içacapepech, çan nimā aocmo vmpa quioalittac: tel çan nenpanca in ommotlalica, in vncan oc nen quitlalmomuztica: çan ie iuhquin icamac ommaquique,*** ie vncan quimaoa, quintequiaia, iuhquin motiti ---------- *OCONCAVILI. This form appears to be from the verb cahua ‘to leave, abandon’, but the function of the applicative here is a mystery. **TECA OMOQUAVITEC, CA TECA OMOQUIMILO. These are presumably little-attested idiomatic expressions. Perhaps the sense is “he has done stupid things to people and hidden himself from them.” The Spanish version may rest on a better comprehension of the idioms. ***ÇAN IE IUHQUIN ICAMAC OMMAQUIQUE. Another unsolved idiom, perhaps referring to the apparition's blistering the enchanters with words. [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] feigning to be a Chalcan. He seemed to be drunk, feigning drunkenness. On his chest were tied eight grass ropes. He came quarreling with them, coming ahead of the Spaniards. He ranted at them, saying to them, “What are you still doing here? What more do you want? What more is Moteucçoma trying to do? Did he come to his senses yesterday? Has he just now become a great coward? He has done wrong, he has <abandoned> the people, he has destroyed people, [he has hit himself on the head and wrapped himself up in relation to people], he has mocked people and deceived them.” When they had seen this and heard what he said, they made an effort to address him humbly; they quickly set up for him a place to attend to him, an earthen platform with a straw bed, but he absolutely would not look at it. In vain they had set out for him the earthen platform they had tried to make for him there. [It was as though they entered his mouth]; he scolded them, greatly scolded them with angry words, [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] to them that he was an Indian from Chalco, and he seemed to them to be drunk. Tied to his chest he wore eight reins or ropes made of grass, like esparto grass, and he was coming from the direction where the Spaniards were. When he got close to them, with great annoyance he began to scold them, saying, "Why do you persist in coming here again? What is it that you want? What does Moteucçoma intend to do? Has it occurred to him to wake up now? Now is he beginning to be afraid? He has already made his mistakes! Now there is no remedy! For he has brought about many unjust deaths and destroyed many. He has commited much abuse, deceit, and cheating." When they saw this man, the enchanters were gready afraid and prostrated themselves before him. They began to pray to him, and they made a mound ofearth as an altar and cast green grass on top for him to sit on. But he as an angry man would not sit down there nor even look at it, nor do what they asked him to do. In vain they made the altar or seat; instead he grew more fiercely angry and scolded them more strongly, saying to them loudly and with great vehemence, [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 19r.] les que era vn indio de los chalco* parecíales que estaua borracho traya ceñido a los pechos ocho cabestros o sogas hechas de heno como de esparto y venia de hazia donde estauan los españoles y llegando cerca dellos comento con gran enojo a reñirlos y dixoles para que porfyays vosotros otra uez de venir aca? Que es lo que quereys? Que piensa Motecuçoma de hazer? Agora acuerda a despertar? Agora comienca a temer? y a errado! ya no tiene remedio! porque a hecho muchas muertes iniustas a destruido muchos, a hecho muchos agrauios y engaños y burlas. Como vieron este hombre: los encantadores temieron mucho y prostraronse delante del, començaron a rogarle y hizieron vn monton de tierra como altar y echaron heno verde encima para que se sentase y el como hombre enojado ni quiso sentarse ni mirarle, ni hazer lo que le rogauā: por demas hizieron el altar o asiento, mas antes, se enojo mas brauamente: y mas reciamente los reñia con grandes vozes y gran denuedo les dixo ---------- *LOS CHALCO. The word "los" seems superfluous, though the intention may be been "los chalca," "los chalcas," "los chalcos," or some such.
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 19v.] tzatlatoa: quimilhui. Tleçānen in nican amicativitze aoquic iez in Mexico, ie ic cēmāia, nepa xivia, aocmo vncā, tla xommocuepacan, tla xontlachiacan in Mexico, tlein ie mochioa: in iuh ie mochioa. Nimā ic oallachixque, oallachixtivetzque, in quioalitta ie tlatlā in ixquich teucalli, in calpulli, in calmecatl, yoan in ixquich mexico calli, yoan iuhquin ma ie cuel necaliva. Auh in o iuh quittaque in tlaciuhque, iuhquin canin ia, iniollo, aocmo onnaoatque, iuhquin aca itla quintololti: quitoque inin ca amo totech monequia in tiquittazque, ca ie itech monequia quittaz in Motecuçoma, in otiquittaque: ca amo çan aca, ca iehoatl in telpuchtli Tezcatlipuca: niman ic poliuh, aocmo quittaque. Auh in titlanti aocmo tenamiquito, aocmo tevic quiçato, ça vncā oalilotque in tlaciuhque, in tletlenamacaque, quinonotzaco in Motecuçoma: oalnepanixtiaque [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] saying to them, “What is the use of your coming here? Mexico will never exist again, it [is gone] forever. Go on with you; it is no longer there. Do turn around and look at what is happening in Mexico, what is going on.” Then they looked back, they quickly looked back, and saw all the temples, the calpulli [buildings], the calmecacs, and all the houses in Mexico burning, and it seemed as though there were fighting. And when the rainmakers had seen that, their hearts seemed to fail them, they were silent, as though someone had forced something down their throats. They said, “What we have seen was needed to be seen not by us but by Moteucçoma, for that was not just anyone, but the youth Tezcatlipoca.” Then he vanished, and they saw him no more. And after that the messengers did not go to encounter [the Spaniards], did not move in their direction, but the rainmakers and priests turned back there and came to tell Moteucçoma. They came together with [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] "You have come in vain! I will never again take notice of Mexico, I leave you forever; I will take care of you no longer, nor defend you. Go from me. What you want cannot be done! Turn and look toward Mexico." Then they turned to look toward Mexico, and they saw that all the cus [great temples] were burning, and the calpules [calpulli ceremonial centers] and calmecates [calmecacs, houses of instruction], and all the houses of Mexico. It appeared to them that there was a great war inside the city of Mexico. When the enchanters saw that, their hearts failed them; they got a lump in their throat and could not speak. This happened on the slope going up toward Tlalmanalco. After this, the person who had spoken to them disappeared and, coming to their senses, they said, "It would be fitting if Moteucçoma had seen what we have seen, not us. The one who has spoken to us is not a human being, he is the god Tezcaltipoca." These messengers thought no more of going on, but returned to give an account to Moteucçoma of what had happened. Once the messengers had come into [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 19v.] por demas aveys venido! Nunca mas hare cuenta de mexico para sieprē os dexo, no tendre mas cargo de vosotros ni os amparare: apartaos de mi: lo que quereys no se puede hazer! bolueos y mirad hazia mexico:  y ellos boluieronse a mirar hazia mexico: y vieron que todos los cues ardian, y los calpules y calmecates, y todas las casas de mexico: pareciolos que auia gran guerra dentro en la ciudad de mexico.  Como vierō aquello los encantadores desmayaron grandemente, y no podieron hablar palabra hizoseles vn nodo en la garganta: esto acontecio en la cuesta que suben hazia tlalmanalco:  hecho esto desaparecio aquel que les hablaua y boluiendo en si dixeron: esto que emos visto conbenia que lo viera Motecuçoma y no nosotros. Este que nos a hablado no es persona humana, es el dios Tezcatlipuca: estos mensajeros no curaron de yr mas adelante, sino boluierō a dar relacion a Motecuçoma de lo que auia pasado:  venidos los mansajeros a la prescencia de Mo 
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 20r.] in achto iaque in Tzioacpopocatzin. Auh in oacico iehoantin titlantin, iuh quipovilique in Motecuçoma in iuh mochiuh in iuh quittaque. In motecuçoma, in o iuh quicac, ça oaltolo ça oaltolotimotlali, oalquechpilo, oalquechpilotimotlali, aocmo oalnaoat, çan ontlanauhtimotlali, vecauhtica in iuhqui ontlapolo, ça ixquich inic quinoalnanquili: quinoalilhui, Quennel mocechtle* ca ie ic toncate, ca ie otictomacaque, cuix cacah tepetl tictlecavizque: auh cuix ticholozque ca timexica, cuix nellaontimaliviz in mexicaiutl, motolinia in icnoveve, in icnoilama: auh in piltzintli, in aia quimati, campa neviquililozque, quē nel, quē çannel nen, quē noçonel, campanel, ca ie tictomacaticate in çaço tlein, in çaço quenami in ticmaviçozque. ---------- *MOCECHTLE. Read "moceloquichtle." [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] those who had first gone with Tzihuacpopocatzin. And when the messengers got there, they told Moteucçoma what had happened and what they had seen. When Moteucçoma heard it, he just hung his head and sat there, not saying a word. He sat like someone on the verge of death; for a long time it was as though he had lost awareness. He answered them only by saying to them, “What can be done, oh men of unique valor? We have come to the end. We are resigned. Should we climb up in the mountains? But should we run away? We are Mexica. Will the Mexica state flourish [in exile]? Look at the sad condition of the poor old men and women, and the little children who know nothing yet. Where would they be taken? What answer is there? What can be done, whatever can be done? Where are we to go? We are resigned to whatever we will see, of whatever nature.” [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Moteucçoma's presence and he had heard what they sayd, he was greatly saddened. He sat with his head down; he did not speak, but was struck dumb and almost unconscious. After a while, he said to them, "Well, noble lords, what are we to do? We are about to be lost. We are already reconciled to our deaths. We will not climb some mountain or run away! We are Mexica, we will face what should come for the honor of our Mexica stock. I grieve for the old men and women, and for the little boys and girls who lack the possibility and discretion to take care of themselves. Where can their parents find escape for them? What are we to do, then? We are born [exist as we are]; let come what may." [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 20r.] tecuçoma: oydo lo que dixeron entristeciose mucho, estaua cabizbaxo. no hablaua, estaua enmudecida casi fuera de si: a cabo de rato, dixolos: pues que emos de hazer varones nobles? ya estamos para perdernos, ya tenemos tragada la muerte! no emos de subirnos a alguna sierra ni emos de huyr! Mexicanos somos, ponernos emos a lo que viniere por la honrra de nuestra generacion mexicana: pesame de los viejos y viejas y de los niños y niñas que no tienen posibilidad ni discrecion para valerse donde los escaparan sus padres! Pues que emos de hazer? Nacido somos venga lo que viniere.