History's Most Infamous Betrayers

From biblical days, to the race to colonize the New World, to the situation in the Middle East today, human history has been dotted with self-serving traitors and collaborators who have betrayed their peoples and their nations. But in the end, not everyone had a chance to enjoy the fruits of their betrayal for long.

JUDAS ISCARIOT: One of the 12 apostles, Judas betrayed Jesus after the Last Supper in the garden of Gethsemane, where he identified the "heretic" proclaiming himself to be the son of God to an armed band by kissing him. It was the kiss of death for Jesus of Nazareth, but for the Christian faith, the crucifixion and the subsequent resurrection became the central tenets of a faith that has spread across the globe. But Judas was to suffer a punishing fate for his misdeeds. The Judaean villager was allegedly paid 30 pieces of silver for his collaboration, but in some biblical accounts, Judas threw away the blood money after the crucifixion in repentance and horror. By all accounts, he later committed suicide and the money allegedly went to buy a potter's field. For his collaboration, Judas has turned into one of the most derided figures in Western history and his name today is synonymous with betrayal.

MARCUS BRUTUS: One of the most well-known cries of dismay over a betrayal is Julius Caesar's "Et tu, Brute?," uttered when Brutus, a Roman senator, joined a plot to oust Caesar from power. But Brutus' betrayal was fueled by complicated concerns for the Roman republic. A beloved friend of Caesar, Brutus opposed the ascension of any single man to the position of dictator, and he feared his dear friend aspired to such power. Brutus' inflexible sense of honor made it easy for Caesar's enemies to manipulate him into believing that Caesar had to be killed for the republic to survive. In the end, the story of Marcus Brutus is the story of the complexities of human choices. The "noblest of Romans" ultimately betrayed his friend because he loved the republic more.

DOÑA MARINA: Arguably the most reviled women in the Hispanic world, Doña Marina is known as the traitor — and in some circles, the harlot — who betrayed her people to the viciously cruel Spanish conquistadors. A former slave, Marina was the translator-cum-mistress of Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of "New Spain" or what is now Mexico. Born into an Aztec family, she knew Nahuatl, the Aztec language, when she was sold as a slave in the Yucatan peninsular where she learned the Mayan dialects. She was therefore able to translate the Nahuatl of the Aztec emperor into the Mayan language, which was understood by Cortes' Spanish translator. According to legends, the vital linguistic link proved crucial in helping Cortes conquer the New World. Marina went on to bear Cortes a son and for her contribution to history, she is known as La Malinche, a term denoting betrayal. To this day, the word malinchista is used to describe a Mexican who apes the language and customs of another country.

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