Sociology Index

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Fratricide

In the epic Mahābhārata, Arjuna was unaware that Karna was his biological brother. Karna knew about the bond of brotherhood, but he still elected to indulge in fratricide due to his allegiance to prince Duryodana. The biblical account speaks of Cain and Abel as the first fratricidal murder to be committed. Fratricide is the act of killing one's brother. In ancient Egyptian mythology, the God Osiris is murdered by his brother Set who usurps the throne.

In the Mughal Empire, fratricides occurred as a result of wars of succession. Shah Jahan had his eldest brother Khusrau Mirza killed in 1622. Shah Jahan also had his brother Shahriyar killed in 1628. Shah Jahan's son, Dara Shikoh was assassinated by four of his brother Aurangzeb's henchmen in front of his terrified son. Ashoka killed his brothers as punishment for his father's death and quarelled for the kingdom in a fratricidal war of succession.

Greek tragedy Antigone unfolded due to the previous war between the princely brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, who killed each other in a fratricidal combat. Eteocles fought for Thebes to defend the city against Polyneices and his army. The two killed each other by stabbing in the heart. Fratricide was not a legal practice in the foundation of the Ottoman Empire. The practice of fratricide was legalized by Mehmed II, formally legalized the practice of fratricide in order to preserve the state and not further place strain on the unity as previous civil wars did.