Chapter

The Art of Persuasion

Nancy Farriss

in Tongues of Fire

Published in print December 2018 | ISBN: 9780190884109
Published online October 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190884130 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190884109.003.0011
The Art of Persuasion

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  • History of the Americas
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Missionaries and their native co-authors incorporated traditional indigenous oratory into Christian sermons in order to persuade, as well as instruct, the Indian neophytes. An analysis of sermons and devotional literature in indigenous languages reveals many examples of the refined style of Mesoamerican ceremonial discourse, especially the most characteristic literary device of paired couplets, or difrasismos. A comparison is made between Renaissance European and Mesoamerican poetics as represented in Mixtec and Zapotec texts, with an emphasis on the miracle stories of Marian devotion and deathbed exhortations. The rhetorical strategy, which relied on privileging familiar indigenous form over alien Christian content, may have gained a more attentive but not necessarily more convinced audience.

Keywords: poetics; miracle stories; paired couplets; rhetoric; Zapotec; Mixtec; ceremonial discourse; sermons

Chapter.  11759 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas ; History of Religion

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