added by archaeologs Aztec name for the creator god of learning who was also patron of the arts, agriculture and science, among other things. The brother of Huizilpochtli, Texcatlipoca and Xipe Totec, he was, like them, a god of many other aspects, such as the wind god (Ehecatl) and the morning and evening star (Xolotl). He is usually depicted as the feathered serpent. His cult can be seen in many Mesoamerican cultures, including Teotihuacan and Maya, and may go back as far as Olmec times. Although an important deity in the early Toltec pantheon, a confusion of legend and fact indicates that either Quetzalcoatl or a historical figure closely associated with him, the High Priest Topiltzin, was banished from Mexico in c987. Following this, a faction dedicated to the far more militant Texcatlipoca gained control. Although he never regained his exalted position, Quetzalcoatl remained prominent in the Mexican pantheon. His legendary promise to return from the east became ingrained in Aztec thought. So much so that in 1519 (coincidentally a dangerous time in the Aztec calendar) the newly arrived Cortez was for a time regarded as the returning deity. There is little doubt that this psychological element played some part in the fall of the Aztec empire.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983