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Hector

Hector

In Greek mythology, Hector was the son of King Priam of Troy and his wife, Hecuba. A Trojan hero and warrior, he fought bravely against the Greeks in the Trojan War*. In the Iliad, Homer's epic about the war, Hector is portrayed as a noble and honorable leader. He was a good son, a loving husband to Andromache and father to Astyanax, and a trusted friend. Honest and forthright, he greatly disapproved of the conduct of his brother Paris, who carried off Helen, the wife of the Greek ruler Menelaus. These actions set the stage for the Trojan War.


The Noble Warrior. Despite his feelings about Paris, Hector stood ready to defend Troy when the Greeks arrived to avenge the seduction of Helen. When the first Greek warrior set foot on Trojan land, it was Hector who killed him. In the long war that followed, Hector fought valiantly and with great vigor against the Greeks. He was the Trojans' greatest champion.

During the first nine years of the war, neither the Greeks nor the Trojans gained a clear advantage. The tide of war favored first one side and then the other. Then in the tenth year of the war, a dispute arose between Achilles*, the greatest of the Greek warriors, and Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek forces. As a result, Achilles left the field of battle and refused to fight. His absence provided Hector and the Trojans with an opportunity to march out from Troy and attack the Greeks.

With Achilles gone, Hector's most formidable opponents were the Greek champions Diomedes and Ajax. When Diomedes faced Hector in battle he saw that Ares, the god of war, accompanied the Trojans. The sight of Ares caused the Greeks to retreat. But then the goddesses Hera* and Athena*, who favored the Greeks, helped Diomedes wound Ares. When the wounded god left the field of battle, the Greeks attacked and forced the Trojans to turn back.

Faced with this crisis, Hector went back to Troy to consult with his father and to ask the Trojan women to pray to the gods for help. No longer confident of victory and certain that he would soon die, Hector bid a sad farewell to his wife and son.


The Death of Hector. Returning to battle, Hector met and fought the Greek champion Ajax in one-to-one combat. The duel continued until nightfall, with neither hero gaining victory They finally stopped and exchanged gifts as a sign of respect for each other.

epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

When fighting between the Greeks and Trojans resumed, Hector and his forces seemed invincible. Hector killed many Greeks and succeeded in pushing them back to defenses they had built around their ships. Hector was about to burn the Greek ships when the god Poseidon* appeared, urging the Greeks to pull themselves together and fight back. At the same time, the Greek warrior Patroclus, the beloved friend of Achilles, entered the battle wearing Achilles' armor.

Believing that Achilles had returned, the Greeks rallied and caused the Trojans to retreat. But then Hector, under the protection of the god Apollo*, killed Patroclus and took the armor he was wearing. Hearing of his friend's death, Achilles reentered the battle and aimed his fury at Hector.

Achilles pursued Hector around the walls of Troy three times before catching him. Aware that Hector was fated to die at Achilles' hand, Apollo abandoned him and allowed Achilles to strike a mortal blow. As he lay dying, Hector pleaded with Achilles to return his body to his father, Priam. Achilles refused. Hector predicted that Achilles, too, would die very shortly.

After Hector died, Achilles tied the warrior's body to a chariot and dragged the body around Troy before the grief-stricken eyes of the Trojans. Then he dragged the body around the tomb of his friend Patroclus. When Achilles' fury and vengeance were finally satisfied, he left Hector's body on the ground to be devoured by dogs and birds of prey

The abuse of the dead Hector angered Zeus*, who sent a messenger to order Achilles to release the corpse to Priam. He also sent word to Priam to offer a ransom for the body to Achilles. Priam did so and begged the Greek warrior for his son's body. Moved by Priam's grief, Achilles agreed.

invincible too powerful to be conquered

Priam brought Hector's body back to Troy, and an 11-day truce allowed the Trojans to arrange an elaborate funeral to mourn their great warrior. Hector's funeral marks the conclusion of the Iliad, as well as the beginning of the end for the Trojans. They later suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the Greeks. After the fall of Troy, the Greeks killed Hector's son Astyanax, fearing that he might try to avenge his father's death. Thereafter, the surviving Trojans honored Hector as one of their greatest heroes.

See also Achilles; Agamemnon; Ajax; Andromache; Astyanax; Hecuba; Heroes; Iliad, the; Priam.

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Hector

Hector, in Greek mythology, leader and greatest hero of the Trojan troops during the Trojan War. He was the eldest son of Priam and Hecuba, the husband of Andromache, and the father by her of Astyanax. In the Iliad he is portrayed as the courageous mainstay of Trojan resistance. He was killed by Achilles in revenge for the death of Patroclus. Hector had several hero cults, most notably at Troy and Thebes.

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hector

hec·tor / ˈhektər/ • v. [tr.] talk to (someone) in a bullying way: she doesn't hector us about giving up things | [as adj.] (hectoring) a brusque, hectoring manner. DERIVATIVES: hec·tor·ing·ly / ˈhekt(ə)ring/ adv.

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hector

hector play the bully, (tr.) bully. XVII. f. Hector name of ‘the prop or stay of Troy’, son of Priam and Hecuba, sb. use of Gr. adj. hēktōr holding fast, f. ékhein hold; f. the use of the sb. (common in late XVII) for ‘swaggering fellow’.

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Hector

Hector In Greek legend, the greatest of the Trojan heroes, eldest son of Priam. Hector was slain by Achilles.

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hector

hectorabetter, begetter, better, bettor, biretta, bruschetta, carburettor (US carburetor), debtor, feta, fetter, forgetter, getter, go-getter, Greta, Henrietta, letter, Loretta, mantelletta, operetta, petter, Quetta, setter, sinfonietta, sweater, upsetter, Valletta, vendetta, whetter •bisector, collector, connector, convector, corrector, defector, deflector, detector, director, ejector, elector, erector, hector, injector, inspector, nectar, objector, perfecter, projector, prospector, protector, rector, reflector, rejector, respecter, sector, selector, Spector, spectre (US specter), vector •belter, delta, helter-skelter, melter, pelta, Shelta, shelter, swelter, welter •pre-emptor, tempter •assenter, cementer, centre (US center), concentre (US concenter), dissenter, enter, eventer, fermenter (US fermentor), fomenter, frequenter, inventor, lamenter, magenta, placenta, polenta, precentor, presenter, preventer, renter, repenter, tenter, tormentor •inceptor, preceptor, receptor, sceptre (US scepter) •arrester, Avesta, Chester, contester, ester, Esther, fester, fiesta, Hester, investor, jester, Leicester, Lester, molester, Nestor, pester, polyester, protester, quester, semester, sequester, siesta, sou'wester, suggester, tester, trimester, vesta, zester •Webster • dexter • Leinster •Dorchester • Poindexter • newsletter •genuflector • implementer •experimenter • trendsetter •epicentre (US epicenter) •typesetter • jobcentre • photosetter •Cirencester • interceptor • Sylvester

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Hector

Hec·tor / ˈhektər/ Greek Mythol. a Trojan warrior, son of Priam and Hecuba and husband of Andromache. He was killed by Achilles, who dragged his body behind his chariot three times around the walls of Troy.

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Hector

Hector

Nationality/Culture

Greek/Roman

Pronunciation

HEK-tur

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

Homer's Iliad, Hyginus's Fabulae, other tales of the Trojan War

Lineage

Son of Priam and Hecuba

Character Overview

In Greek mythology , Hector was the son of King Priam of Troy and his wife, Hecuba . A Trojan hero and warrior, he fought bravely against the Greeks in the Trojan War. In the Iliad , Homer's epic poem about the war, Hector is portrayed as a noble and honorable leader. He was a good son, a loving husband to Andromache (pronounced an-DROM-uh-kee) and father to Astyanax (pronounced uh-STEE-uh-naks), and a trusted friend.

Honest and forthright, Hector greatly disapproved of the conduct of his brother Paris, who carried off Helen , the wife of the Greek ruler Menelaus (pronounced men-uh-LAY-uhs). These actions set the stage for the Trojan War. Despite his feelings about Paris, Hector stood ready to defend Troy when the Greeks arrived to avenge the seduction of Helen. When the first Greek warrior set foot on Trojan land, it was Hector who killed him. In the long war that followed, Hector fought valiantly and with great vigor against the Greeks. He was the Trojans' greatest champion.

During the first nine years of the war, neither the Greeks nor the Trojans gained a clear advantage. The tide of war favored first one side and then the other. Then in the tenth year of the war, a dispute arose between Achilles (pronounced uh-KILL-eez), the greatest of the Greek warriors, and Agamemnon (pronounced ag-uh-MEM-non), the leader of the Greek forces. As a result, Achilles left the field of batde and refused to fight. His absence provided Hector and the Trojans with an opportunity to march out from Troy and attack the Greeks.

With Achilles gone, Hector's most formidable opponents were the Greek champions Diomedes (pronounced dye-uh-MEE-deez) and Ajax. When Diomedes faced Hector in battle he saw that Ares (pronounced AIR-eez), the god of war, accompanied the Trojans. The sight of Ares caused the Greeks to retreat. But then the goddesses Hera (pronounced HAIR-uh) and Athena (pronounced uh-THEE-nuh), who favored the Greeks, helped Diomedes wound Ares. When the wounded god left the field of batde, the Greeks attacked and forced the Trojans to turn back.

Faced with this crisis, Hector went back to Troy to consult with his father and to ask the Trojan women to pray to the gods for help. No longer confident of victory and certain that he would soon die, Hector bid a sad farewell to his wife and son.

Returning to battle, Hector met and fought the Greek champion Ajax in one-on-one combat. The duel continued until nightfall, with neither hero gaining victory. They finally stopped and exchanged gifts as a sign of respect for each other.

When fighting between the Greeks and Trojans resumed, Hector and his forces seemed unable to be defeated. Hector killed many Greeks and succeeded in pushing them back to defenses they had built around their ships. Hector was about to burn the Greek ships when the god Poseidon (pronounced poh-SYE-dun) appeared, urging the Greeks to pull themselves together and fight back. At the same time, the Greek warrior Patroclus (pronounced pa-TROH-kluhs), the beloved friend of Achilles, entered the battle wearing Achilles' armor.

Believing that Achilles had returned, the Greeks rallied and caused the Trojans to retreat. But then Hector, under the protection of the god Apollo (pronounced uh-POL-oh), killed Patroclus and took the armor he was wearing. Hearing of his friend's death, Achilles reentered the battle and aimed his fury at Hector.

Achilles pursued Hector around the walls of Troy three times before catching him. Aware that Hector was fated to die at Achilles' hand, Apollo abandoned him and allowed Achilles to strike a mortal blow. As he lay dying, Hector pleaded with Achilles to return his body to his father, Priam. Achilles refused. Hector predicted that Achilles, too, would die very shortly.

After Hector died, Achilles tied the warrior's body to a chariot and dragged the body around Troy before the grief-stricken eyes of the Trojans. Then he dragged the body around the tomb of his friend Patroclus. When Achilles' fury and vengeance were finally satisfied, he left Hector's body on the ground to be devoured by dogs and birds of prey.

The abuse of the dead Hector angered Zeus (pronounced ZOOS), who sent a messenger to order Achilles to release the corpse to Priam. He also sent word to Priam to offer a ransom for the body to Achilles. Priam did so and begged the Greek warrior for his son's body. Moved by Priam's grief, Achilles agreed.

Priam brought Hector's body back to Troy, and an eleven-day truce allowed the Trojans to arrange an elaborate funeral to mourn their great warrior. Hector's funeral marks the conclusion of the Iliad, as well as the beginning of the end for the Trojans. They later suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the Greeks. After the fall of Troy, the Greeks killed Hector's son Astyanax, fearing that he might try to avenge his father's death. Thereafter, the surviving Trojans honored Hector as one of their greatest heroes.

Hector in Context

Despite the legendary rivalry between Greece and Troy that leads to the Trojan War, Hector is a clear example of the respect with which many Trojans were regarded by the Greeks. His portrayal in tales of the Trojan War is nearly always sympathetic, and many Greeks related more to him than to the godlike Greek hero Achilles who kills him. This treatment of Hector illustrates how the Greeks understood the complex nature of war and the allegiances of soldiers.

For the most part, Hector stands as a symbol of courage and bravery. When he knows he will be killed by Achilles, he does not run away, but faces his fate. Hector also represents reason and sensibility; he warns Paris that his actions endanger all of Troy, but Paris does not listen. Hector also represents the fall of Troy, for as one of its greatest warriors, his defeat foreshadows the eventual destruction of the city.

Hector in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Hector has long been a favorite example of courage and heroism for writers and artists. In the fourteenth century, French writer Jacques de Longuyon listed Hector in his work Voeux du Paon as one of the nine worthiest figures from history to display the true meaning of chivalry. He was the subject of paintings by Jacques-Louis David, Peter Paul Rubens, and Giorgio di Chirico, among others.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

When a country is at war, the enemy is often depicted negatively by the mainstream media of the time—which can include songs, oral tales, books, or in recent times, films and television shows. Do you think negative portrayals such as these should be encouraged in times of war? Do you think sympathetic portrayals of those considered enemies would be harmful? Why or why not?

SEE ALSO Achilles; Agamemnon; Hecuba; Heroes; Iliad, The

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