English: Cain and Abel
Cain and Abel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cain is one of Adam and Eve‘s sons in the Biblical book of Genesis. From his treacherous behavior he’s come to symbolize evil.

The story goes like this: Cain and his brother Abel make sacrificial offerings but only Abel’s is acceptable to God. Cain then murders Abel, and the Lord casts him out of the land, placing a special mark on his forehead to protect him from those who might try to harm him for murdering his pious, peaceful brother.

Cain goes on to found a city, becoming materially prosperous but forever alienated from his Maker. He’s mentioned later in the Old Testament Song of Lamech (Gen. 4:24) as the epitome of revenge. He’s also alluded to in the New Testament as “of the evil one” (John 3:12).

In pop culture, Caine (Kwai Chang Caine) is the name of a TV character played by the late actor David Carradine in the 1970’s TV series, Kung Fu. This TV Cain, also known as “Grasshopper” is a wandering Shaolin monk in early America.

Master Po (left) and Kwai Chang Caine (right) ...
Master Po (left) and Kwai Chang Caine (right) in a flashback from the episode “Dark Angel”, written by Herman Miller (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although Caine has killed the Emperor’s nephew in a act of rage back in China,¹ he becomes an advocate of peace in America. But this new mission in the New World doesn’t prevent him from kicking the daylights out of bad guys in acts of self defense.

The show became something of a cult classic and several spinoffs followed.

The idea of Cain as an archetype of evil is not limited to the Bible and TV. More examples in pop culture and literature can be found here:

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¹ From Wikipedia: “In the pilot episode Caine’s beloved mentor and elder, Master Po, is murdered by the Emperor’s nephew; outraged, Caine retaliates by killing the nephew. With a price on his head, Caine flees China to the western United States.”


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