The Myths of the Opossum: Pathways of Mesoamerican Mythology
Published in 1990 under the titleLos mitos del tlacuache, this is the first major theoretical study of Mesoamerican mythology by one of the foremost scholars of Aztec ideology. Using the myth cycle of the opossum and the theft of fire from the gods as a touchstone, López Austin constructs a definition of myth that pertains to all of Mesoamerican culture, challenging the notion that to be relevant such studies must occur within a specific culture.
Shown here is that much of modern mythology has ancient roots, despite syncretism with Christianity, and can be used to elucidate the pre-Columbian world view. Analysis of pre-Columbian myths can also be used to understand current indigenous myths. Subtopics include the hero and his place in the Mesoamerican pantheon, divine space and human space, mythic event clusters, myth as truth, and the fusion of myth and history.