Popol Vuh

by

Dennis Tedlock

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One Death Character Analysis

One Death is one of the most powerful lords of Xibalba, along with Seven Death. Both lords enjoy their peace and quiet, which leads them to summon One Hunahpu, Seven Hunahpu, Hunahpu, and Xbalanque to Xibalba in attempts to sacrifice them after they make too much noise playing their ball game. One Death is also a skilled trickster, and sets many traps for his potential victims. He does, however, attempt to magnify himself far beyond what he deserves, and this is his downfall. He dies when he's too entranced by Xbalanque and Hunahpu's return as minstrels to understand that they're actually going to kill him.

One Death Quotes in Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh quotes below are all either spoken by One Death or refer to One Death. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Popol Vuh published in 1996.
Part Three Quotes

And such was the naming of their names, they named them all among themselves. They showed their faces and named their names, each one named by the one ranking above him, and naming in turn the name of the one seated next to him.

Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

"Where might you have come from? Please name it," Xibalba said to them.

"Well, wherever did we come from? We don't know," was all they said. They didn't name it.

Related Characters: Hunahpu, Xbalanque, One Death, Seven Death
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Popol Vuh LitChart as a printable PDF.
Popol Vuh PDF

One Death Character Timeline in Popol Vuh

The timeline below shows where the character One Death appears in Popol Vuh. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Three
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...between the sky and Xibalba, the underworld. As such, the highest lords of the underworld, One Death and Seven Death, can hear the players stomping and yelling as they play. One and... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
There are a number of lesser lords under One Death and Seven Death. Scab Stripper and Blood Gatherer make people bleed, while the Demon of... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
One Death and Seven Death send their messenger owls to summon One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu to... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
Finally, One Death and Seven Death address their guests. They tell One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu that tomorrow... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
In the morning, when One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu are brought back before One Death and Seven Death, they explain that they finished the torch and the cigars. One and... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
The tree's fruit amazes and troubles One Death and Seven Death. The fruit is so abundant, it's impossible to tell where One Hunahpu's... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...lords of Xibalba greet the owl messengers and inquire about the success of the sacrifice. One Death inspects the dripping "heart," and then places it over the fire to dry. The aroma... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...by themselves. Just as before, the lords of Xibalba are quickly annoyed by the noise. One Death and Seven Death decide to summon these foolish ball players to play in Xibalba, and... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...and Hunahpu ask the louse to relay its message. The louse repeats the summons from One Death and Seven Death to come in seven days with equipment to play ball. He says... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...express no emotion at being bitten, and then moves on to the next seated lord, One Death . One Death yowls in pain, and the lord sitting next to him uses One... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
One Death 's messenger brings Hunahpu and Xbalanque a lit cigar each and one lit torch. He... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...the lords are distraught. They recognize that there's something different about Hunahpu and Xbalanque, but One Death and Seven Death invite the boys to play ball anyway. The lords ask the boys... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...Xibalbans only want to kill them, and threaten to leave unless the Xibalbans play fair. One Death and Seven Death agree to use the boys' ball, and the conversation then turns to... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
...slashing and stand points down. Then, the boys summon cutter ants to fetch flowers from One Death and Seven Death's garden. One Death and Seven Death had posted a sentry, a whippoorwill,... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...bowls at the lords' feet, the lords receive them with pained and sick looks. Afterwards, One Death and Seven Death summon the whippoorwill to ask how it allowed the flowers to be... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...realizes that Hunahpu isn't moving, he begins to cry. Hunahpu's head rolls in front of One Death and Seven Death, and all of Xibalba is thrilled at this victory. Xbalanque gathers himself... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
A bit later, in the court, One Death and Seven Death drop in Hunahpu's head, and Hunahpu shouts for them to use his... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
One Death and Seven Death are confused when they return, but they resume the game regardless. Xbalanque... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
What It Means to be Human Theme Icon
...stone oven and then summon the twins, promising them a treat. Once the boys arrive, One Death attempts to engage the boys in a game of jumping over the oven, but Hunahpu... (full context)
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
One Death and Seven Death summon Xulu and Pacam, and the seers do as they were told... (full context)
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
One Death and Seven Death eventually hear about these entertainers and decide to summon them to perform.... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Villainy Theme Icon
...and bring it back to life, and the twins oblige. They then set fire to One Death 's home while all the lords are in it, but they quickly put it out,... (full context)
Origins, Customs, and the Mayan Culture Theme Icon
Names, Power, and Memory Theme Icon
One Death and Seven Death ask Hunahpu and Xbalanque to sacrifice them, and the twins agree. They... (full context)