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Miguel León-Portilla

Miguel León-Portilla (b. 1926) is recognized worldwide as the leading authority on Aztec (Nahua) history, literature, and philosophy. His 1959 work, La Filosofia Nahuatl estudiada en sus fuentes, published in the U.S. as Aztec Thought and Culture, revealed the world of Mesoamerica in a new light. His translation, with Librado Silva Galeano, of the Huehuetlahtolli (Wisdom of the Elders), published in a massive edition at the five hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Western Hemisphere, showed to millions of Mexicans that there was a formalized ethics before the invasion of the Europeans.

As León-Portilla's work on Mesoamerica became more widely known, it contributed greatly to the now commonly held view that Mesoamerica produced one of the world's original civilizations. His many honors include a second term, beginning in 2003, as president of the Mexican Academy, and he has received honorary degrees from universities in Mexico, the U.S., Israel, Czechoslovakia, Bolivia, and Peru. His prizes include the Academic Order of the Palm (France), Bartolomé de las Casas (Spain), and Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships.

León-Portilla has been the editor of Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl since 1959 and of Tlalocan since 1979. He has published more than forty books, including Vision de los Vencidos, Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World, The Aztec Image of Self and Society, and (with Earl Shorris) In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature--Pre-Columbian to the Present. For more than ten years he has been working on a translation from Nahuatl of the Cantares Mexicanos, which is the most esoteric and perhaps the most spiritual of the works of the ancient Aztec oral literature.

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