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In 1979, William Arens published The Man-Eating Myth, in which he presented his finding that there is no good evidence that cannibalism was socially accepted by anybody, ever, and an hypothesis that such accounts are constructed by society as a way of galvanizing opposition to other societies.

Arens must not have spoken with Michael D. Coe, who wrote that "it is incontrovertible that some of these victims ended up being eaten ritually."

Bernard R. Ortiz de Monetellano writes that only the upper class (in Tenochtitlan, at least), about 25% of the city's population, partook in cannibalism. But with so much else to doubt, I doubt this as well.

Did more than just priests and the upper class eat people in the Aztec Empire? Or is William Arens right that there was never social acceptance of cannibalism in the Aztec Empire?

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    If you're doubting Arens' claim, then en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuru_(disease) is a relevant article. – Andrew Grimm Nov 14 '18 at 23:39
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    Should nutrition be added to this question? – Andrew Grimm Nov 14 '18 at 23:40
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    I suppose it depends on whether you think "ritual" cannibalism is the same as "socially acceptable" cannibalism. I don't think anyone claims people were part of the everyday Aztec diet. – pboss3010 Nov 15 '18 at 13:32
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    @pboss3010, rituals can be every meal, once a day, seasonal, annual, once-in-a-lifetime, and rituals can be done by everybody, by specific classes (i.e. by women, by men, by children), by specific people (i.e. by parishioners, by the ordained, by priests, by the high priest only); they can be on an annual basis or they can be triggered by events such as a military victory or loss, or a variation in harvests, or by natural disasters, or any other thing... Stating that something happened as part of a ritual says nothing about how frequent and widespread it was. – elliot svensson Nov 15 '18 at 14:55
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    The claims and questions in this question don't seem to align quite as well as I would expect. Specifically, the claim in the first paragraph is "cannibalism was never socially acceptable" while the main question at the end is "more than just priests and the upper class". I would say that cannibalism as part of a religious ritual would count as "socially acceptable" and thus contradict the first claim, but that seems to be excluded by the actual question. Is that intentional? – Kamil Drakari Nov 15 '18 at 15:46

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