9. The Aztecs used mock gladiators as one means of worshiping the god of night
Tezcatlipoca was a god of night and darkness, including the dark arts of sorcery and witchcraft, and was associated with north. He was considered the most powerful of the Aztec gods, given his ability to disrupt harmony among the gods and people, creating war, which brought the Aztecs tribute for their empire, food for their people, slaves for their fields, and victims for their sacrifices. Although he was not the god of water he had the power to create drought, and he exulted in discord and confusion. Known by many names to the Aztecs, he was feared for his ability and proclivity to disrupt lives. He was worshiped through several rituals, one of which consisted of a young victim being leashed to a stake or wall, armed with wooden weapons, and forced to face armed Aztec warriors in combat, which was deliberately drawn out in order to entertain the god for as long as possible.
Another form of worship was the selection of a victim at the end of the month of Toxcatl (late April to early May). The young man selected was dressed as Tezcatlipoca and spent the ensuing year adorned in his attire and treated as if he were the capricious god among the living. He was given the gift of several women to be his companions throughout the year, and was given a flute to play whenever he appeared in the city, drawing attention to his presence and homage from his fellow Aztecs. When Toxcatl began the following year, the young man appeared at the Great Pyramid and following a feast of celebration signifying the rebirth of the year (spring) he ascended the pyramid, broke the flute over his head, and was taken by the priests to be killed in sacrifice to Tezcatlipoca. After the ritual was completed the young man’s successor was selected, which was considered a great honor among the Aztecs.