Study Guide

Hod (Höðr) - Sibling Rivals

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Sibling Rivals

If you have brothers or sisters, you know how annoying they can be. Maybe your little brother tries to follow you around everywhere. Maybe your older sister spends hours in the bathroom every day (what’s she doing in there, anyway?). But at the end of the day, you love them and you’d never do anything to hurt them, right? Well that’s not true for the members of this clique, who actually end up killing their brothers (a crime known as fratricide). Sometimes, like in Hod’s case, it’s an accident. But more often than not, sibling rivalry becomes so intense that it ends in murder.

Romulus and Remus

Romulus and Remus came by their family-killing tendencies honestly: Their great uncle Amulius killed all their grandfather’s male heirs in a power grab before they were born. Naturally, Amulius wasn’t too keen on these twin competitors for the throne, so he had them abandoned to die. After their miraculous survival, the brothers got into an argument about where they should found their new city, which Romulus ended by killing Remus. And today, the capital of Italy is called Rome instead of Reme. Ouch.

Cain and Abel

The sons of Adam and Eve chose different paths in life. Cain became a farmer, and Abel, a shepherd. Unfortunately for Cain, God preferred meat to produce. He accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected Cain’s, sparking a murderous jealousy in him. After Cain killed Abel, God cursed him to be a lonely wanderer forever.

Balin and Balan

The Arthurian knights and brothers Balin and Balan didn’t mean to kill each other. But as so often happened in the Morte d’Arthur, they didn’t recognize one another under all that armor. So Balin didn’t realize that the knight guarding the gate he had to go through was actually Balan, and vice versa. In one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the whole Morte, Balin asks the knight he has just killed his name and learns that it’s his brother, Balan. The two die within a day of one another and are buried in the same tomb. Time to break out the Kleenex.

The Pandavas

The Mahabharata, the ancient Indian epic about the war between the Pandava brothers and their one hundred cousins, is so complicated that it’s hard to keep all the characters straight. The Pandava brothers have trouble keeping everybody straight, too. In their big battle with their cousins’ forces, they kill their own brother, Parna, because they don’t realize that he is their brother. But if you had one hundred cousins’ names to remember, you, too, might have trouble recognizing yet another family member.

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