Plutarch’s Lives by Plutarch (Amazon) Clearly the master of this genre, Plutarch wrote biographies of famous Greeks and Romans around the year 100 AD. As always, I tend to default to the Penguin collections. I strongly recommend Plutarch’s Lives Vol. I & II (Amazon) , Essays (Amazon) , and The Makers of Rome: Nine Lives (Amazon) . His book On Sparta (Amazon) is also a collection of biographies (and aphorisms) from the famous Spartans. There is a reason that Shakespeare based many of his plays on Plutarch—not only are they well-written and exciting but they exhibit everything that is good and bad about the human condition. Greed, love, pain, hate, success, selflessness, leadership, stupidity—it’s all there.
Other analysts, looking at the famous Aztec materials, have suggested that such large-scale cannibalism is related both to hunger and the appreciation of the nutritional value of flesh. In other words, cannibalism is a response to material conditions of existence such as protein depreciation and dwindling livestock. In Mesoamerica these predisposing conditions ensure that cannibalism is given a ritual rationale so that themes of renewal are manifested through flesh-eating. The evidence of perimortem mutilation is overwhelming; the inference from these data to cannibalism and its rationales remains, however, contestable and less compelling.