As Hot as the Sun: Aztec Fevers, Medicine, and Magic in 16th-Century Mexico
AuthorFlagel, Star C.
AdvisorCurcio, Linda A.
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Fevers had a significant presence in Mexico's sixteenth-century medical manuscripts, a consequence of the endemic and epidemic infections common to the pre and post-Hispanic eras. The distinctly Aztec conceptualization of these fevers invites further inquiry into the Aztec medical system. The Aztecs recognized multiple types of fevers, both natural and supernatural, manifesting in hot and cold forms. Thus, fevers can serve as a lens through which to examine the Aztecs' perception of the body and the universe, as well as the cosmic structure, dualities, and deities that governed the two. Furthermore, the animistic entities that connected the body to the divine also played a role in the development of fever. To address this state of disequilibrium, health practitioners relied upon their knowledge of the body, disease symptomology, and their vast pharmacopeia. In cases where a condition was suspected of having a supernatural etiology, these practitioners turned to magic.