Teaching Students About the Aztec God of War
The Aztec civilization is one of the most fascinating cultures that existed in the Americas. It’s no wonder why many students are captivated by their history and mythology. One of the most important figures in Aztec mythology is the god of war, Huitzilopochtli (pronounced “wee-see-loh-pocht-lee”). In this article, we will explore who he was, his role in Aztec mythology, and how teachers can teach their students about him.
Who was Huitzilopochtli?
Huitzilopochtli was the patron god of the Mexica people, who were the rulers of the Aztec Empire. He was often depicted as a warrior with a hummingbird headdress, shield, and a spear called a xiuhcoatl (pronounced “shee-oo-koh-atl”). According to Aztec mythology, he was one of the four sons of the supreme god, Ometeotl. Huitzilopochtli was also believed to be the one who led the Aztecs from their homeland of Aztlan to the Valley of Mexico, where they built their capital city, Tenochtitlan.
What was Huitzilopochtli’s role in Aztec mythology?
Huitzilopochtli’s role in Aztec mythology was that of a warrior and protector. The Aztecs believed that he was the one who ensured their victory in battle and protected their people from their enemies. In fact, it was believed that he needed to be fed human hearts to sustain his life force. This led to the practice of human sacrifice in Aztec culture, which was often performed on top of the Templo Mayor, which was the centerpiece of the Aztec capital city.
Teaching about Huitzilopochtli
When teaching about Huitzilopochtli, it’s important to keep in mind the religious and cultural context in which he was worshipped. This includes the practice of human sacrifice, which may be difficult for some students to grasp. It’s important to approach this subject in a sensitive and respectful manner, while also providing historical context and emphasizing that it is not acceptable or ethical in modern times.
One way to teach about Huitzilopochtli is to use primary sources, such as Aztec codices and artworks, to give students a visual representation of the god. This can also be a great opportunity to discuss the importance of studying primary sources in historical research.
Another approach is to connect Huitzilopochtli to other gods of war in different cultures. For example, students could compare and contrast Huitzilopochtli with the Greek god of war, Ares, or the Norse god of war, Odin. This can help students see common themes and patterns across different cultures and mythologies.
Teaching students about Huitzilopochtli and Aztec mythology can be a fascinating and enriching experience. By approaching the subject with sensitivity and historical context, teachers can help students better understand the religious and cultural practices of the Aztec civilization. In addition, comparing and contrasting Huitzilopochtli with other gods of war can help students appreciate the universal human fascination with this deity archetype.