The meaning of the word antropofagia can be understood as human flesh, as this term is formed by the Greek word antropos (man) and fagia (to eat). Anthropophagy
An initial clarification
Anthropophagy happens when an animal eats a person . Humans are not part of any animal’s food chain, therefore the bones and tissues of the human body are not included in any diet in the animal kingdom . However, some wild animals are predators and if they cannot get their natural food for reasons of scarcity , human meat becomes a food alternative. Another circumstance of anthropophagy occurs when a person’s corpse is used to feed a carrion animal. Consequently, anthropophagy is an exceptional phenomenon of nature that is unrelated to the instinctual behavior of animals.
Anthropophagy and cannibalism, two terms that are usually confused
As a general rule, the practice of cannibalism is applicable only in the animal kingdom, because when a man like human flesh occurs the phenomenon of cannibalism.
Cannibalism is the act of feeding on members of one’s own species , so it occurs in the animal world, exceptionally among human beings. An animal practices cannibalism when it eats its newborn offspring, a very common phenomenon in the animal kingdom, where its explanation is due to the survival instinct that prevails over the maternal instinct.
Anthropophagy from a cultural and anthropological point of view
The concept anthropophagy can also be used in a cultural and symbolic sense. Thus, the tendency towards human destruction itself (what Freud called the thanatos or death instinct) is comparable to the anthropophagy of the animal kingdom. The idea that man destroys others or self-destructs is evident in all kinds of cultural manifestations. In this sense, we can recall the work of Goya “Saturn devouring a son”, the story of the titan Cronos or the idea of the philosopher Hobbes that man is a wolf for man.
From the point of view of anthropology , these civilizations that practiced anthropophagy or cannibalism did this because they understood that by eating another human being they could acquire extraordinary powers, or because they believed that in this way they satisfied the gods.