Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/99
In the fierce faith taught by the Mexican priesthood were many gods, most of them blood-thirsty and sinister monsters. To the service of each god, with its endless rites and ceremonies, were dedicated hundreds of priests, who had quarters within the temple precincts. Much land was attached to the chief temples, teocallis, and the priests soon acquired great wealth. In their hands was the education of the young and the care of the hieroglyphical paintings. Wellnigh as mighty as the emperor himself were the two high priests, who stood at the head of this vast and powerful order.
Chief among Aztec deities was Huitzilopotchli, the war-god, whose altars reeked with human blood. All-armed he had been born into the world, a spear in the right hand, a shield in the left, and a crest of green feathers on his glittering helmet. For this "devil incarnate" had been built, about twenty-eight years before the coming of the Spaniards, the great teocalli, the pride of Mexico.
Not less savage was Tlaloc, the god of rain, who in seasons of drought demanded children for his victims ere he would deign to open the heavens. The tears of the little ones as they were borne through the streets robed in white and wreathed with flowers, were held to foreshadow the coming of the life-giving rain. Parents sometimes freely offered their own children, for all who died this terrible but glorious death gained in the future life a place in the highest heaven.
In this after-world warriors who had fallen in battle and the victims of the gods passed at once