National Geographic : 1938 Feb
THE INCAS: EMPIRE BUILDERS OF THE ANDES undainty liquid, however, was strained and otherwise treated by the wife until it be came a drink of considerable potency and charm, such as even finicking modern folk can swallow, if need be. When children began to be born to the puric and his wife, the always benevolent government allotted additional land for the support of each child. The process of parturition was accom panied by none of the superfine luxury which modern mothers know; for, then as now, the Indian mother merely retired be hind a hedge or into her house, there to give birth alone without aid from midwife or physician. Under these conditions infantile mortal ity was probably high; but at least the sur vivors were uncommonly tough. EMPEROR AND PHILOSOPHER Such was life in the Inca realm at its best time. This is the period which Mr. Herget so truthfully shows us in his admirable paintings herewith. Pachacutec's days were passed in the aus tere majesty of massive masonry palaces, at Cuzco and in many other places. Huge courts were thronged with colorfully clad retainers whose sole ambition was to lay down their lives for him. Flowers, brilliant featherwork, superb tapestries of vicufia wool in lustrous hues, vessels and orna ments of gold, and all that was fairest of the handicrafts of his subjects adorned the stately niche-lined apartments where he dwelt when not campaigning at the head of his armies. Fortunately, many of these things have survived from his day into ours and may be seen in museums in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, as well as in our own country and in many another of which Pachacutec never heard. Aside from all his surrounding splendor, the Emperor Pachacutec was a great soul, a noble philosopher whose heart held charity for his fellow men. Many of his sayings have been preserved for us by Indian and Spanish chroniclers. Among them are these: Envy is a worm that gnaws and consumes the entrails of the envious. It is very just that he who is a thief should be put to death. Adulterers, who destroy the peace and happiness of others, ought to be de clared thieves, and condemned to death with out mercy. Judges who secretly receive gifts from liti gants ought to be looked upon as thieves, and punished with death as such. The noble and generous man is known by the patience he shows in adversity. The physician herbalist who is ignorant of the virtues of herbs, or who, knowing the uses of some, has not attained to a knowledge of all, understands little or nothing. He ought to work until he knows all, as well the useful as the injurious plants, in order to deserve the name to which he pretends. Drunkenness, anger, and madness go together; but the first two are voluntary and to be re moved, whereas the last is perpetual. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Such words as these, stern but fundamen tally magnanimous, reveal to us that the Incaic mind was not wont to compromise with wrongdoing. Crime and punishment were not, indeed, unknown among the sub jects of the Sons of the Sun. After all, they were human beings. If vagabonds and other mischievous per sons were flogged with a sling for a minor offense and hanged by the feet until they were dead for a grave one, there was also a strong humanitarian note in the law's differentiation between a robbery from malice aforethought, for which the per petrator was duly punished, and a robbery committed to obtain food badly needed. For this, chastisement was inflicted, not upon the thief, but upon the official whose duty it was to forestall need so grievous! The prisons maintained by the Incas for punishing criminals of all classes, espe cially traitors and nobles who shirked their high duties, were terrible places filled with poisonous snakes and other horrors; but, so the old chroniclers tell us, they were almost always empty of human inmates. Pachacutec also was a daring original thinker. Before an assembly of the priests of Inti (the Sun) he once reasoned out the existence of a god still higher than the Sun. He pointed out the manner in which that luminary always follows a set path, performs definite tasks, and keeps certain hours as does a laborer. He showed that the solar radiance can be dimmed by any passing cloud. The sun must, Pachacutec argued, have a master who is master also of all created things. He ended by proclaiming to the priests the omnipotence of the counselor of his father, the Supreme Deity, the Creator-God Viracocha. He ordained, however, that the worship of Viracocha should be confined to the ruling caste, as being too subtle and sublime for ordinary folk, and he com manded that the people be taught that Inti was the greatest of the gods.