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A parabatai is a pair of Nephilim warriors who fight together as lifelong partners, their souls bound together by oath and their angelic bond. Shadowhunters are not required to have parabatai, and few choose to have one.
In the formal ceremony held to bind the parabatai, the pair to be bound stand within a ring of fire on the ground. The words of the parabatai oath are spoken, and parabatai runes are placed on their skin.
Entreat me not to leave thee,
Or to return from following after thee—
For whither thou goest, I will go,
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.
Thy people will be my people, and thy God my God.
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.
The Angel do so to me, and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me.
A Shadowhunter may choose only one parabatai in his/her lifetime and cannot perform the ritual more than once. Most Shadowhunters never have any parabatai at all. Their emotions, instincts, and strengths are shared with one another. The parabatai runes allow the pair to maintain a strong connection and are able to sense each other's life force. The rune can also be used to track one another, and doing so will inflict severe pain on both. When one dies, the rune will fade.
The only bond forbidden to the parabatai is the romantic bond.
- Valentine Morgenstern and Lucian Graymark (split by Luke's Downworld transformation)
- Jace Herondale and Alec Lightwood
- Clary Fairchild and Isabelle Lightwood (intended, no evidence that they ever underwent the ceremony)
The use of the Shadowhunter term parabatai comes from heniochoi kai parabatai which means "charioteers and side-men" in Ancient Greek, where the side-man (the parabatai) cannot leave the charioteer (heniochoi) and fights from the chariot to protect the other, while the charioteer drives; the one is useless without the other. In other terms, it can also mean a soldier paired with a chariot driver.
The usage heniochoi kai parabatai is derived from the words heníochoi ("hνίοχοι", or êniochoi), which translates to "charioteers", and paraibatai ("παραβάτης", or parabatés), which means "chariot-fighters", companions, or "a warrior beside the charioteer, or a certain type of foot-soldier". It originates from the Greek units that fought in pairs. In Iliad, Dionysius of Halicarnassus said that poets called parabatai the Athenians' apobatai—sidemen in chariots which were a crucial element of the Panathenaic procession. The partnership of the heniochoi and parabatai is more popularly referenced from the Sacred Band of Thebes, where the partners (the typically older heniochoi and the younger parabatai) were male lovers, with the idea that, according to Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas and Plato's Symposium, soldiers in said "army of lovers" would fight more fiercely—"willing to rush into danger for the relief of one another"—and more cohesively when alongside a lover or with someone they are bonded to. The Greek word parabatai can also translate to "violator, transgressor", or "the one who sins".
- The words of the parabatai oath is a variation of the verse Ruth 1:16-17 from the Bible.
- 2x03: Parabatai Lost
- 1x10: This World Inverted
- 2x20: Beside Still Water
- "parabatai" 1 — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- Clockwork Angel
- James, Sacra Pagina #14
- Homer's People: Epic Poetry and Social Formation by Johannes Haubold
- The Peloponnesian War: A Military Study by J.F Lazenby
- Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience by Victor Davis Hanson
- Sacred Band of Thebes — Hellenica, Michael Lahanas
- Sacred Band of Thebes — AbsoluteAstronomy.com
- Sacred Band of Thebes on Wikipedia.org
- An older version of the "Sacred Band of Thebes" Wikipedia entry
- Various Bible-based disctionaries: