ABSTRACT

Like De Soto and Cortes, the reader of La Araucana also becomes a voyager, by extension one of the conquistadores who spread Spanish imperial power across the New World from Mexico to South America. Resolving such contradictory readings of La Araucana is an important critical desideratum, but at this point the matter seems intractable, and there is clearly a need for a different beginning place that will lead to a different resolution. The intertextual relationship between La Araucana and the Aeneid is complicated initially by the fact that Virgil’s poem is open to the same diversity of critical approaches as Ercilla’s. The associations between the two poems are found in larger structural units as well as smaller ones. In one sense, Ercilla’s poem seems to confirm Todorov’s suggestion that trying to see the Indian as a human being with the same dignity and worth as the European tends to result in assimilation and projection of European values onto indigenous ones.