Primary Source

Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Nonfiction, Florentine Codex (Nahuatl)


This chapter from the Florentine Codex, a bilingual encyclopedia of central Mexican life and history, was created by the Franciscan friar, Bernardino de Sahagún and indigenous advisors, painters and scribes. Nahuatl and Spanish texts appear side by side, and are accompanied by an image of Malintzin translating. The Nahuatl version of this text describes indigenous objects, words, and emotions in more detail than its Spanish counterpart, from the treasured items seized by conquistadors to the palace roof where Malintzin uttered her commands. In this text, she emerges as the crucial figure—the name of Cortés is never mentioned, and the orders she gives seem to be hers alone, not a translation of his demands. So, too, is the fear she induces more palpable and poignant.

Source: Bernardino de Sahagún. “Of how the Spaniards entered Moteucçoma’s private home, and what happened there.” Book 12, Chap. 18, p.124, 126 in Florentine Codex. ca. 1570-1585. In We People Here. Translated and edited by James Lockhart. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993.

This source is a part of the Doña Marina, Cortés' Translator teaching module.

Bernardino de Sahagún, “Of how the Spaniards entered Moteucçoma’s private home, and what happened there.” Book 12, Chap. 18, p.124, 126 in Florentine Codex, ca. 1570-1585, Women in World History


Eighteenth chapter, where it is said how the Spaniards went into Moteucçoma’s personal home, and what happened there.
And when the collection of all the gold was completed, thereupon Marina summoned to her, had summoned, all the noblemen. She stood on a flat roof, on a roof parapet, and said, “Mexica, come here, for the Spaniards are suffering greatly. Bring food, fresh water, and all that is needed, for they are suffering travail, are tired, fatigued, weary, and exhausted. Why is it you do not want to come? It is a sign that you are angry.”
But the Mexica no longer at all dared to go there. They were greatly afraid; they were limp with fear; they were taken aback. Fear greatly prevailed; it spread about. No one dared come out. It was as though a wild beast were loose, as though it were the deep of night. Yet there was not for that reason a halt or hesitation in delivering everything [the Spaniards] needed, but they delivered it fearfully, they went in fear, they ran in fear as they went to deliver it. And when they had spilled it on the ground, everyone came running back in a flash, panting and trembling.


Inic caxtolli omei capitulo: vncan mitoa, in quenin Españoles calaquito in ipilchan Motecuçoma: auh in tlein vmpa muchiuh.
Niman ie ic vi in vel itlatlatiaia Motecuçoma in vmpa mopia in vel itech iaxca in motecuçoma: itocaiocan Totocalco iuhquin yioiolipan, iuhquin mocecenquetza iuhquin moquequetzotzona, iuhquin iiztaia iniollo. Auh in onacito, in oncalacque tlatlatiloian, iuhquin mihicultia, mihicolia: nimã ie ic oallaquixtilo in vel ixcoian yiaxca, in vel ineixcavil, in vel itonal, mochi tlaçotlanqui, in chiaiaoac cozcatl, in machoncotl, in teucuitlamatemecatl, yoan in matzopetzli, teucuitlaicxitecuecuextli, yoan in xinvitzolli tlatocatlatquitl, yoã in iacaxivitl, yoan in ixquich in oc cequi in itlatqui in amo çan tlapoalli muchi quicuique, moch intech compachoq moch cõmotechtique, moch cõmotonaltique. Auh in ocõcocoleuhque in ixquich in teucuitlatl; in ontlacocoleoaloc, niman ie ic quicentlalia itoalco, itoalnepantla in ixquich in tlaçohivitl.
Auh in ie iuhqui in o mochi munechico in teucuitlatl. Nimã ie ic quïoalnotza, quïoalnentzallani in ixquichtin in pipiltin in Malintzin: tlapanco oalmoquetz, atenanticpac: Quitoa. Mexica xioalhuian ca cenca ie tlaihiovia in Españoles: xiqualcuicã in tlaqualli, in chipaoac atl, yoan in ixquich monequi, ca ie tlahiovia, ie quiciavi, ie quihiovia, ie mociavi, ie mihiovia: tleica in amo anoallaznequi? Ic neci ca anqualani.
Auh in Mexica çã nimã aocmo motlapaloaia in ma onvian, canca momauhtiaia, mauhcaçonequia mihiçaviaia, cenca mavitzli onoc, mavitzli moteteca, aocac tlaxtlapaloa, ça iuhqn tequiani vnca, ça iuhquin tlalli mictoc: tel amo ic mocaoa, amo ic netzotzonalo in concaoa in ixquich intech monequi, ça in mauhcac in concaoaia, ça onmomauhcatlaloa in ontlacaoa. Auh in ocontepeoatovalnetlalolo, vallachichitoca, tlacica, tlaviviioca.

How to Cite This Source
Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator: Nonfiction, Florentine Codex (Nahuatl) in World History Commons,