16 figs., 4 tables

The Myths of the Opossum

Pathways of Mesoamerican Mythology
By Alfredo Austin
Translated by Bernard Ortiz de Montellano



Published in 1990 under the title Los mitos del tlacuache, this is the first major theoretical study of Mesoamerican mythology by one of the foremost scholars of Aztec ideology. Using the myth cycle of the opossum and the theft of fire from the gods as a touchstone, López Austin constructs a definition of myth that pertains to all of Mesoamerican culture, challenging the notion that to be relevant such studies must occur within a specific culture.

Shown here is that much of modern mythology has ancient roots, despite syncretism with Christianity, and can be used to elucidate the pre-Columbian world view. Analysis of pre-Columbian myths can also be used to understand current indigenous myths. Subtopics include the hero and his place in the Mesoamerican pantheon, divine space and human space, mythic event clusters, myth as truth, and the fusion of myth and history.

This book presents a unique description of the Mesoamerican world view for students of comparative religion, history of religion, folklore, ethnology, and anthropology.

Contributor Bios
Alfredo López Austin is professor emeritus of history at National University of Mexico (UNAM) in the Instituto de Investigaciones Anthropológicas.
Bernard Ortiz de Montellano is a former professor of anthropology at Wayne State University.
Thelma Ortiz de Montellano is retired from Alamo Heights ISD in San Antonio and has also taught at San Francisco Community College.