Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/120

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near the lake, which in those early days extended much farther than at present. It has now been made to subside, leaving much territory formerly under water spread out as barren marsh-land. Several lakes, divided by low lands have taken the place of the broad inland sea overlooked by the Mexican capital.

Here the Mexicans built their capital city, which in time grew to be the centre of a great confederacy. They called it Tenochtitlan, which means Place of the Stone and the Nopal. Its name was also Mexico early in its history, from the old god Huitzilopochtli, who was also called Mexitli.

Tenochtitlan covered about one fourth of the ground now occupied by the city of Mexico. Its founders divided it into four quarters or divisions, to which were given the names of Cuepopan, Atzacualco, Moyotla, and Zoquipan. In the centre rose the great teocalli dedicated to the god Huitzilopochtli. The cathedral of the present city of Mexico stands on the site of this ancient temple, but not a trace of the Aztec town is now visible. The names of the quarters above given remain in those of the suburbs of the modern town.

Little by little smaller islands were united to the larger ones by means of stone-and earth-works. From a life of misery, by industry and energy the Mexicans advanced their condition. They devoted themselves to fishing and hunting, and exchanged the product of these labors with the neighboring people for wood, stone and such things as they wanted.

Up to this time they had obeyed their priests, or