In Greek mythology, Priam was the last king of Troy*, a ruler who witnessed the destruction of his city in the Trojan War*. His son Paris caused the war, while another son, Hector*, became the greatest Trojan hero during the long struggle against the Greeks.
Priam, the youngest son of King Laomedon of Troy, was originally named Podarces. While Podarces was an infant, the king promised his daughter Hesione to the great hero Hercules*. The king broke his promise, and Hercules killed him and all his sons except Podarces, who was sold as a slave. Hesione bought her brother at the slave market and changed his name to Priam.
prophecy foretelling of what is to come; also something that is predicted
When Priam was still a child, Hercules placed him on the throne of Troy. Priam grew up to be a capable and honest ruler who expanded Trojan rule and brought prosperity to the city. The king had several wives. His favorite, Hecuba, bore him many children, including Hector, Paris, and Cassandra, a young woman with the power of prophecy who foretold the destruction of Troy.
* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.
Priam never forgot Hesione, the sister who had rescued him from slavery. She had been carried off to Greece by Hercules, who married her to his friend Telamon. Many years later, Priam sent his son Paris to Greece with a fleet of ships to bring Hesione back to Troy. Instead of returning with Hesione, however, Paris brought back Helen*, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta.
The abduction of Helen by Paris enraged the Greeks and led to the Trojan War. By the time the fighting began, Priam was much too old to take part in battle, so he let his sons manage the war. Sadly, as the war progressed, he saw his sons perish one by one.
abduction carrying away by force
Toward the end of the war, Priam went to the battlefield and asked the Greek hero Achilles* to return the body of his son Hector, killed in battle by Achilles. The Greeks greatly admired Priam for this show of courage. When Troy finally fell, Priam saw his son Polites killed in the royal palace by the warrior Neoptolemus. Aroused to fury, the aged king hurled a spear at the Greek, but his throw was too weak to cause any harm. Neoptolemus responded to Priam's act by dragging the king to the family altar and killing him.
See also Achilles; Cassandra; Hector; Hecuba; Helen Of Troy; Iliad, The; Paris; Trojan War.