Vol. 61:2 (2015) ► pp.242–264
Metaphor and symbol
The portrait of Montezuma II in the work of W.H. Prescott and its translation into Spanish by J. Navarro
Much has been said about how ideological tendencies can influence the content of a translation and the Spanish version of Prescott’s work History of the Conquest of Mexico, with a Preliminary View of the Ancient Mexican Civilization, and the Life of the Conqueror, Hernando Cortés is a clear example of this influence. Manipulation was the strategy that the Mexican editorial promoted and it is what the translator yielded to, but not in a way that was expected. Focusing on the account of the episode of the conquest of Mexico in which Montezuma and his tragic death are prominent, this article will show how Navarro, the translator, meticulously respects the North American’s portrayal of the Aztec ruler, whom he considers to be hypocritical, superstitious, lavish, weak and fainthearted. When Navarro does manipulate the description, it is principally in order to accentuate some negative trait of the Aztec leader which has already been presented in the original text or to prevent the Mexican reader from having to see in print the name of the emperor who was associated with incidents which many Mexicans might consider lamentable. At the same time, it will be clear that cognitive linguistics provides adequate theoretical support in order to be able to comprehend that both the original and translated texts highlight the idea of Montezuma as a metaphor and symbol of failure.