The Work

Several years after his death, Aguirre’s spirit decides to come back to earth to retrace his steps. This voyage takes him across America, both geographically and timewise, until our days. During this trip Aguirre undergoes several transformations which turn him into the first American who has come from overseas. However, in this same process, the America traversed by Aguirre in his insane crusade is experiencing a change in the opposite direction, which turns it further and further away from the “American being” Aguirre has turned into.

This dilemma, which is at the origin of our cultural problems, is what we treat through dance, image, and the poetic use of speech.

Scenes

1. The Combat of the Dead

The work opens in a sort of Limbo, a territory of death and inactivity. Aguirre’s nervous spirit engages in a furious struggle with the dead, harassed by the verses of poet-king Nezahualcoyotl:
That I may never die! That I may never perish!
There, where death does not exist, there, where triumph is There I go.

2. Return to Life

At the end of the combat and imitating Pizarro, Aguirre draws a line and tells his men: “Those who step on this side will go; the rest, to your graves”. Little by little, all his troops, from captains to prostitutes, and even the priest and the executioner, follow him and enter into the American jungle. Aguirre writes a letter to Philip the II, in which he declares permanent war against the Spanish Crown.

Do it with your best handwriting because it is for the King. You must write: For His Majesty the King Philip the II, of Spain, thus you shall write, son of Charles the unconquerable.

This second declaration sent by Don Lope de Aguirre, not having received an answer to the first, dated today exactly eleven years after his sentence and vile execution. You write it as I am saying, without changing a comma or I will put your head somewhere else.

You must write that I will take the war back, as then, from prince to prince. And you must also repeat the sentence, the one that that he can keep his God that I prefere my demon.

And that after fifteen centuries of so much Christ we are as we are, that I invite him to try the demon’s side! Let us see what happens! And write down this sentence: His Highness, I am ready for a long span of life that I do not know when it will end. It is the journey to America.

I am leaving with my executioner and my victims for this fantastic lands and close this letter with my title of traitor, which is not easy to acquire because I must betray you so I can become a rebel.

3. The Jungle

They reach the jungle. Aguirre and his men, overwhelmed by the immensity and diversity of nature in America, are hounded by doubt. America is too big for their medieval Christianity.

4. The Clyptodonts

The exhuberan-ce of the vegetation, the diverse fauna that breaks the schemes of European classifi-cation, the simplicity of Indian life, all this seems like a heresy, like something from the devil.

5. The Inquisition

Aguirre, in his last and perhaps cynic intent to keep his Catholic faith – which seems too small for this new world – decides to whip himself, to submit himself to the Inquisition.
The priest and the executioner, fascinated, begin a crusade against Asmodeo, the demon of lust, who has taken over Aguirre. However, after the torture, directed by Aguirre himself, the demon wins. It is a liberated demon, an American demon.
The march continues, but Aguirre is not the same.

6. The Amazons

Aguirre and his troops arrive to the Amazon territory, after a hundred years of wandering through jungles and rivers. These European men, who, in the words of Abel Posse, “had made, deep in their souls, a panting dog of the wonderful fire of desire”, fall charmed into the magic but honest arms of the Amazons who take them to the world of pleasure. However, their ancestral anxiety prevents them from enjoying it. Nudity and pure, uncommitted sex are not possible within their Christian morality, which, although damaged, still guides Aguirre and his men. The charm is broken and Aguirre continues his voyage.

7. El Dorado

Aguirre, perhaps motivated by awareness of his weakness before the Spanish Crown, finds El Dorado. El Dorado turns out to be a rude and hard place, where everything shines so much that it is nauseating. Aguirre realizes that so many things happened during all those years that the dream of El Dorado had lost its original meaning. In the desolation he finds behind El Dorado’s splendor, he comes to understand the aim of his pilgrimage as a conquistador.

8. Love

Later Aguirrre finds love, rescues Sor Angela, who is possessed by a demon, from a convent in Arequipa, and they live a voluptuous and apocalyptic romance which strengthens Aguirre.

9. Cartagena

Finally, Aguirre arrives in Cartagena and meets his men, who have turned into the new Americans. Americans who behave like Europeans.

He tries to conquer La Mora, who represents all his women, but she disdains him. He faces his men, who have now turned into great gentlemen, and sends his last and eternal challenge to the king of Spain.

I inform you that nobody has been able or will be able to conquer this land. Its soul palpitates under the swamp, hides in its highest summit, escapes to the deepest forests. Sowing so many churches is just the way to hide reality.

Scribe! Ink and parchment! Please write: Cartagena de Indias, to the Honorable Philip the V, French, Prince of Spain… You write as I said in my first declaration in my first insurrection against Philip the II, I Lope de Aguirre the Traitor, the Pilgrim, the Rebel, you write that down very well, I continue my journey as a rebel in charge of the MaraƱon Empire, the first free territory in the Americas.