Department of History
University of California, Irvine
Instructor: Dr. Barbara J. Becker
from Book X
The Florentine Codex, or Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España (c.1579)
created under the supervision of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (c.1499-1590)
|The [male] physician [is] a curer of people, a restorer, a provider
The [female] physician [is] a knower of herbs, of roots, of trees, of stones; she is experienced in these. [She is] one who has the results of examinations; she is a woman of experience, of trust, of professional skill: a counselor....
The Good Physician
The good [male] physician [is] a diagnostician, experienced -- a knower of herbs, of stones, of trees of roots. He has [results of] examinations, experience, prudence. [He is] moderate in his acts. He provides health, restores people, provides them splints, sets bones for them, purges them, gives emetics, gives them potions; he lances, he makes incisions in them, stitches them, revives them, envelopes them in ashes....
The good [female] physician is a restorer, a provider of health, a reviver, a relaxer -- one who makes people feel well, who envelopes one in ashes. She cures people; she provides them health; she lances them, she bleeds them -- bleeds them in various places, pierces them with an obsidian lancet. She gives them potions, purges them, gives them medicine. She cures disorders of the anus. She anoints them; she rubs, she massages them. She provides them splints; she sets their bones -- she sets a number of bones. She makes incisions, treats one's festering, one's gout, one's eyes. She cuts [growths from] one's eyes....
The bad [male] physician [is] a fraud, a half-hearted worker, a killer with his medicines, a giver of overdoses, an increaser [of sickness], one who endangers others, who worsens sickness; who causes one to worsen. [He pretends to be] a counselor, advised, chaste. He bewitches; he is a sorcerer, a soothsayer, a caster of lots, a diagnostician by means of knots [diviner twists a rope together into a kind of knot and pulls it quickly. If the knot comes out easily, then he said the patient would recover, but if he only made the knot tighter, ... the patient would die]. He kills with his medicines; he increases [sickness], he seduces women; he bewitches them....
The bad [female] physician [pretends to be] a counselor, advised, a person of trust, of professional knowledge. She has a vulva, a crushed vulva, a friction-loving vulva. [She is] a doer of evil. She bewitches -- a sorceress, a person of sorcery, a possessed one. She makes one drink potions, kills people with medications, causes them to worsen, endangers them, increases sickness, makes them sick, kills them. She deceives people, ridicules them, seduces them, perverts them, bewitches them, blows [evil] upon them, removes an object from them, sees their fate in water, reads their fate with cords, casts lots with grains of maize, draws worms from their teeth. She draws paper -- flint -- obsidian -- worms from them; she removes these from them. She deceives them, perverts them, makes them believe....