Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 40

36 Populär Culture Review Father Geronimo de Aguilar, marooned by a shipwreck in 1511, interpreted for Cortes. Aguilar leamed to speak rudimentary Mayan while living among the Mesoamerican population. A story from Mexican populär culture relates that Cortes expressed annoyance at Aguilar’s inability to communicate with Aztec emissaries. The leader o f the Spanish expedition noticed one o f the Native American woman slaves laughing at the Situation and questioned her levity. He soon discovered M alinche spoke the languages o f both the Mayans and Aztecs (Lizama). Cortes relied on a cumbersome process in which Aguilar translated from Spanish to M ayan and Malinche translated from Mayan to Nahuatl. The young slave girl quickly leamed Spanish and eliminated the need of Aguilar. Cortes promised her ffeedom for her Services. M alinche served as translator when an ambassador from M ontezuma arrived on Easter Saturday 1519. After the emissary gave Cortes gifts o f gold, Cortes asked him if he had more. The envoy answered “yes,” and asked why the Spanish craved gold. Cortes told his interpreter: “Teil him my men suffer from a disease o f the heart that can only be cured by gold” (West and G aff 17). Cortes had heard tales o f vast amounts o f gold in the Aztec Capital Tenochtitlan, now called M exico City. According to Diaz, he bum ed his ships, told his men that they had to rely on their “own good swords and stout hearts,” and set out in search o f these fabled riches (131). The Spanish expedition met hostility when they encountered various tribal groups. However, Malinche soon convinced these indigenous peoples that they should ally with Cortes. The Aztecs built their empire on war and fear. They offered the lives o f their captives to their gods as bloody oblations. Malinche convinced these tribes that a military alliance with the Spanish would defeat Aztec tyranny. Cortes, like the Aztecs, used violence when it suited his purposes. W hen the Spaniards visited the city o f Cholula, Malinche made friends with a Cholulan noblewoman. The woman told Malinche that the Aztec army was nearby and planned a surprise attack. Malinche reported this to Cortes, who questioned the Cholulan leaders and discovered there was a plot to ambush the Spanish. Cortes ordered the Cholulans to gather in the great square beside their temple to the deity Quetzalcoatl where Spanish forces slaughtered three thousand unsuspecting natives (Sahagun 23). The Spanish reached Tenochtitlan in November o f 1519. The Aztec Emperor met them on one o f the causeways that led to the city. Malinche looked directly at Montezuma and spoke to him, taboo for a