Conquest Myth: The Myth of (Mis)Communication
This myth is a classical display of a clash of two big real big egos amongst Great War lords; Cortez the conquistador and the Mexican emperor Moctezuma. There are different recorded accounts of the gestures they made to each when they first met. Each account mentions a tension between each other and each other trying to establish one as being more important than the other person. Whether it is Moctezuma warding of Cortés hand shake offer, just so he can offer his hand shake first, or Cortes looking at the King in his eye, while the King bowed to him. Each leader is trying to convey to the other his authority and at the same time display mutual respect for each other. One can say each text that recorded the encounter is biased towards Moctezuma or Cortes. The Natuatl text of course is being biased towards Moctezuma, and the Diaz-Gomara text is biased towards Cortes.
Not only is there controversy on the gestures made during the meeting, but also on the dialogue that occurred between the two leaders. Since they can not speak each other language, an interpreter by the name of Marina, translates each others’ speeches. Therefore we can not be a hundred percent sure, that dialogue that took place between each other is completely true. Marina could have easily twisted words around to each other or added and subtracted words from each other speech. She’s the only one that spoke both languages, so she’s the only one that truly knows what they said to each other. Marina had to translate several languages to Cortes and sometimes the translation process required a middle man, Diaz. She could have easily lost words in translation, and mistook words for each other in the different languages she knows. For example she might have mistaken what cat mean in Nahuatl and instead used the Yacutec meaning. In his letter to the king of