And by dint of beating upon a magic drum . . .

9 Jun

A succession of more or less able kings succeeded the founder of the Toltec monarchy, until A.D. 994 Huemac II ascended the throne of Tollan. He ruled first with wisdom, and paid great attention to the duties of the state and religion. But later he fell from the high place he had made for himself in the regard of the people by his faithless deception of them and his intemperate and licentious habits. The provinces rose in revolt, and many signs and gloomy omens foretold the downfall of the city. Toveyo, a cunning sorcerer, collected a great concourse of people near Tollan, and by dint of beating upon a magic drum until the darker hours of the night, forced them to dance to its sound until exhausted by their efforts, they fell headlong over a dizzy precipice into a deep ravine, where they were turned into stone. Toveyo also maliciously destroyed a stone bridge, so that thousands of people fell into the river beneath and were drowned. The neighboring volcanoes burst into eruption, presenting a frightful aspect, and grisly apparitions could be seen among the flames threatening the city with terrible gestures of menace.

The rulers of Tollan resolved to lose no time placating the gods, whom they decided from the portents must have conceived the most violent wrath against their capital. They therefore ordained a great sacrifice of war-captives. But upon the first of the victims being placed upon the altar a still more terrible catastrophe occurred. In the method of sacrifice common to the Nahua race the breast of a youth was opened for the purpose of extracting the heart, but no such organ could the officiating priest perceive. Moreover the veins of the victim were bloodless. Such a deadly odour was exhaled from the corpse that a terrible pestilence arose, which caused the death of thousands of Toltecs. Huemac, the unrighteous monarch who had brought all this suffering upon his folk,was confronted in the forest by the Tlalocs, or gods of moisture, and humbly petitioned these deities to spare him, and not to take from his wealth and rank. But the gods were disgusted at the callous selfishness displayed in his desires, and departed, threatening the Toltec race with six years of plagues.

The Myths of Mexico & Peru

By Lewis Spence F.R.A.I. (New York FARRAR & RINEHART Publishers) Printed in Great Britain at the Ballantine Press by Spottiswoode Ballantine & Co. Ltd. Cholchester London & Eton. pp. 15-16


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