Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Harbaugh Brothers: Living the Fratricidal Archetype!

What a story! Two brothers are facing off against each other as head coaches in that game of games known as the Superbowl. Not surprisingly, they're calling it the "Harbowl."

James (Jim) Harbaugh, coach of the San Francisco 49'ers.

John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

But the reason this is so fascinating to us is fraternal conflict is a deeply ingrained archetype.

Ancient literature abounds with accounts of brothers fighting against and often even killing their brothers.

In the Hebrew Bible, the first murder is Cain killing his brother Abel (Gen 4:8).

The Egyptian deity Osiris is murdered by his brother Set.

Romulus kills his twin brother Remus before founding the city of Rome.

In the Midst of Life, by Ambrose Bierce, contains an account of a brother killing a brother in the Civil War.

So, that's why this grabs our imagination. But I suspect both these men want badly to win and will feel nothing but pride if their brother emerges victorious. 

On the one hand, I want the 49'ers to win, since they beat my Packers (I know most people would think it should be opposite, but that's how we roll in Wisconsin. If the team that beat my team then loses, it makes my team all the worse. Think about it.) On the other hand, I used to live in Baltimore. Tough call. Regardless, may the best Harbaugh win.