Hector (Latin: Hector) is a hero of Greek mythology, the eldest son of Priam, king of Troy, and Hecuba. He was the husband of Andromache and father of Astianactes.
He is one of the main characters, on a par with Achilles, in Homer”s Iliad. He participated in the Trojan War and was the most important defender of the city, before being killed in combat by Achilles, who was angry with him for killing Patroclus.
The fame of the Homeric hero remained alive even in the post-classical era, and in the Middle Ages he was held up as exemplary for his full adherence to the ideals of chivalry: in fact, he was included among the Nine Prods.
Hector married Andromache, by whom he had an only son, Astianax, who later met his death at the hands of Achilles” son Neoptolemus during the conquest of Troy. Some authors attribute to Hector the paternity of three other sons: Laodamantus, begotten by Andromache, a certain Amphineus, When he was visiting Lacedemone, Hector”s brother, Paris (called Alexander), kidnapped Helen, the wife of the city”s king, Menelaus. In order to redeem his honor and bring Helen back to himself, Menelaus, with the goal of revenge destroyed the city of Troy, organized with his brother Agamemnon an alliance of the Achaean peoples.
From the landing to the duel between Paris and Menelaus.
Shortly before the war began, the oracle of Apollo Timbreo, god of Troy, suggested that Hector avoid a fight with Patroclus, for if he did so, the Fates would in no way prevent the Trojan”s death. To prevent such an act, Hector was always accompanied by an adviser, Darete, who was supposed to guard him in battle: this man, however, turned out to be a traitor.
Informed of the enemies” arrival, the Trojans deployed along the coast to try to obstruct the landing. The Achaeans, therefore, fearful, lingered to disembark: for an oracle had predicted to them that the first to set foot on Trojan soil would be the first to die. Iolaus, then, unwilling to believe the judgment, disembarked alone from the boat on which he was standing, and launched himself against his enemies. He fought valiantly until Hector killed him by hurling a spear at him: from that moment Iolaus was called Protesilaus.
Subtracting himself for only a few moments from the battle, Hector reached his brother Paris and persuaded him to face Menelaus in a duel. Immediately afterwards he went to the enemy and proposed the duel: the victor would retain Helen with him, and pacts of friendship would be made between the two peoples, so as to end the war. but it did not, however, have the desired outcome because of the divine intervention of Aphrodite, who rescued Paris.
The encounters with Hecuba and with Andromache and her son.
The war continued, many heroes fell under the arms of the valiant Trojan, later, under the advice of his brother Elenus, Hector set out to visit his wife, who was anxious for him; but before starting the journey, he made a heartfelt speech to his soldiers. When the Trojan prince reached the city gates, all the women asked him for news about their loved ones; Hector answered such questions truthfully, telling even the saddest news. In the house he met his sister Laodice and his mother Hecuba; he refused offers of good wine and good meals so as not to forget the harshness of the struggle that loomed not far away and persuaded his mother to pray to the goddess Athena, traditionally hostile to the Trojans, to seek her favor: once he left he met Paris and Helen intent on justifying their actions. Hector then went in search of his wife, and after obtaining information on how to reach her, he was able to meet his closest family members. He saw both his wife and his son, called Astianactes by all but his father Scamandrius. His wife tried to persuade him not to return to battle, but he reassured her, then prepared to embrace their little son. The latter was startled by his father”s appearance: at first he wept at the sight of the dangling helmet and bronze armor. Hector and Andromache, amid the tears, let slip a smile at the funny episode; he took off his headdress, caressed his son, praying to the father of the gods to watch over him.
The duel with Ajax
The Trojan prince returned to the war together with Paris reaping the ranks of the Achaeans; during one clash Eioneus, a fierce enemy of Troy, fell under the Trojan prince”s spear. The battles continued until Helenus, under advice from the gods, suggested to the valiant a challenge between the two most valiant warriors of the opposing sides.
Hector accepted the suggestion, he then decided to challenge the one who was thought to be the strongest of the Greeks. Fearful of the Trojan”s great strength, initially no one stepped forward, this aroused the ire of Menelaus who decided to propose himself, facing certain death. Agamemnon himself intervened to stop his brother, ready to accept the duel; too much stronger was Hector. Nestor understood the situation, instigated the spirits with a heated speech, until as many as nine heroes agreed to fight against the Trojan. At this point a drawing of lots was decided. Everyone deposited a stone, where they had previously placed a mark of recognition, inside Agamemnon”s helmet. When the drawing took place no one instantly recognized the stone, but later it was understood that it was the great Ajax Telamonius who was chosen.
The first assault was made by the Trojan, but the opponent equipped with a famous shield blocked the attack, which did not get past the layers of skin of which it was composed. Ajax launched an assault with his strong spear, getting past the Trojan”s shield, but Hector was skillful in ducking just in time to avoid a tragic end. The Trojan prince”s attack again shattered on the shield, and his weapon at the impact bent. Priam”s son grabbed a stone from the ground determined to continue, then delivered a blow to the shield that rumbled resoundingly. Ajax took a much larger stone than the first and hurled it at his opponent: what little shield still remained was destroyed for good, the Trojan prince was knocked unconscious and his body fell to the ground. Immediately the hero recovered, drew his sword, Ajax did the same, and the two would have fought to the bitter end if the heralds, including Ideus, had not objected to the continuation of the challenge because of the setting of the sun. and so, thanks to Hector”s decision, the duel came to an end, with no losers or winners, and they exchanged gifts of respect.
The gifts exchanged were actually omens of misfortune, as both will be connected to the episodes that tell of their deaths: the sword, Hector”s gift, will be the one with which Ajax will kill himself; the belt, (a gift from the Achaeans) will be the one with which the Trojan will be dragged through the camp after his death. According to another version Hector wanted to clash directly with Achilles realizing that a clash between the two was inevitable, but the Greek hero still enraged at Agamemnon for taking his spoils of war from him (taken only out of compassion and to fulfill Patroclus” wish), Briseis, reported that he had withdrawn from the war and only then did Hector choose Ajax as his challenger.
Hyginus differs from Homer by providing a magical version of the exchange of gifts after the duel. For the mythographer it is as if in addition to the object itself there is also the will, the hatred of the person giving the object., in fact the fate of the two will be connected to those very gifts. Later, in modern times it has been discussed, especially by Frazer, of the “test of valor” between Ajaxes and Hector but, as Carriere and Mason claim, since there was in fact no winner, valor was not fully proven. Ajax later spoke to Odysseus about the challenge, stating that although the king of Ithaca and many other heroes were afraid of Hector because he wreaked havoc when he descended into battle almost as if a god joined him in the fight, he in the challenge had not lost. However, his companions later reminded him that in the clash Hector had not sustained even a small wound.
Against Nestor and Teucer
The valiant warrior in the next battle was about to kill the elderly Nestor; Diomedes, his ally, then tried to persuade Odysseus to join him against the Trojan, but the answer was his flight. The Greek alone set out to rescue his friend, who found himself dismounted; in fact, he lost his horse to an arrow. Nestor climbed into the chariot and the two faced the enemy head-on. A spear was hurled by the infallible Diomedes in the direction of Hector, he managed to dodge it, not so did his coachman, Oeniopeus, son of Thebes, who dead fell from the chariot. Zeus intervened to save Diomedes, who had distinguished himself for courage by raising fog in the battlefield. He was hesitant to abandon the challenge because he did not want Hector to boast that he had been afraid of him. Eventually convinced by Nestor, he retreated, withstanding the enemy”s offenses with difficulty and only thanks to Zeus” thunder.
Another opponent, with whom the Trojan prince found himself fighting several times, was the formidable Teucer; for every arrow he shot, an enemy fell dead on the field. In the first clash between the two, again Hector”s quick reflexes saved his life; instead, the deadly thunderbolt aimed at him struck Gorgitione, his half-brother. Another arrow shot from the bow, and again by divine will the enemy missed his aim, killing instead Archeptolemus, the Trojan”s new charioteer, who was immediately replaced by Cebrio, another half-brother. Hector dismounted from the chariot, going toward his enemy, who in the meantime was preparing to thunder yet another arrow. The bow was stretched to its utmost, but before he could fire the sharp point Priam”s son severed the bowstring and the weapon became unusable. The Trojan, taking advantage of the favorable moment, succeeded in wounding Teucer, and only his brother Ajax and the intervention of other heroes saved the skilled Achaean from certain death.
Against Diomedes and Odysseus
Hector devised a plan: trying to recruit under payment some followers, he answered the call such Dolone.Immediately he headed for the enemy camp where he fell victim to a witty plan of the king of Ithaca. Dolone was taken prisoner and killed, marking the failure of the enterprise entrusted to him by Hector.
Days later, in another battle between the Danaans and Trojans, Hector, thanks to the advice of Zeus, waited restlessly for Agamemnon to give a sign of fatigue and, as soon as he could catch a glimpse of the Achaean king intent on abandoning the battle, he incited his allies and advanced among the enemies, killing many of them: Aseus, Autonoo, Opite, Dolope, Ophletius and Agelao, Hesimnus, Oro and Hipponoo fell lifeless on the battlefield. Diomedes sensed that the enemy”s goal was to reach the ships and together with Odysseus resisted, but when Hector reached them, Diomedes felt a deep fear that he expressed to the king of Ithaca.
Hector attacked Diomedes by hurling his spear at him but it did not reach its target as hoped by the Trojan prince. Diomedes reacted by hurling his spear in turn aiming at the head and striking Hector”s helmet, which barely withstood the strong impact; the Trojan staggered, darkness fell over his eyes, while the enemy recovered weapons and ground. Hector, concerned about the situation, after getting back up climbed into the chariot and fled while the Tydidian covered him with insults. Hector preferred to avoid challenging confrontations by dabbling against lesser soldiers. They pointed out to him the presence of Ajax who was exterminating his allies, but the Trojan prince decided not to clash against him again but to go around him.
The attack on ships
Thanks to the figure of the defender of Troy, the Greeks stayed close to their ships in defense, but he wanted to attack them even though conditions were unfavorable. Hector incited the allies to cross the dangers, while Polydamant tried to understand his plan, which seemed to lead them to certain death; to this end, he called for a council of war, bringing together all the various leaders of the army.
In that expedition the army was divided into groups: in the first at the head of it besides Hector was his brother Cebrio, usually his last coachman; in the second was Paris with Alcathoos and Agenor; in the third was Elyenus with Deiphobo and Asio; in the fourth Aeneas with Archelocus and Acamantus, united to discuss how it would be wiser to act, but of all the only one to disobey, missing by his presence the council was Asio, eager to fight, who began a bloody battle. The whole army finally followed him, reaching as far as the enemy camp near the beach, where they had held up walls and various fortifications. Hector”s troops saw in the course of the battle an omen high in the sky, and thinking that it might be the bearer of ominous news they doubted how to act, and Polydamant himself asked the hero to retreat. The Trojan prince fearing that his friend”s words might cause the soldiers” hearts to waver, retorted by urging all Trojans to fight even at the cost of their lives.
Thanks to the fury of Sarpedon, son of Zeus, Hector was able to climb the mighty wall first, beyond which he moved a huge boulder, so large that two stout men could never have moved it, allowing his allies to penetrate the enemy camp.
Hector led his army to the ships, again facing the fearsome Teucer; the Trojan hero hurled his spear, hoping to strike him, but his weapon lodged in the chest of Amphimachus, an Achaean captain. The Greek hurled his spear but the Trojan”s shield defended him. He came upon Ajax Telamonius, eager to fight him. Hector, trying to strike him, hurled his weapon, which shattered on the intersection of the straps. The enemy hurled a large boulder, against which the Trojan, as far as he could defend himself, found himself lying on the ground in pain. Glaucus and others carried him to safety, but he was badly wounded. Hector, thanks in part to the encouragement provided by the god Apollo, led his men again while the enemies upon seeing him suddenly, as if by magic, had no more courage. The Trojan prince tried to avoid Ajax, unsuccessfully, in the clash they hurled their spears but both were swift and avoided death; people close to them paid the price. The enemy asked his brother for help; Teucer turned his aim against the Trojan, stretched his bow, which broke at the behest of Zeus himself. Hector killed Schedio and when he began to burn the ships ended the life of Periphetes, yet another enemy.
The clash between Hector and Patroclus.
Achilles, who had remained neutral because of a promise given earlier, caught a glimpse of the burning ships from afar, and Patroclus after asking him if he could go and fight dressed in his weapons, set off at the head of the Myrmidons, the army of the Pelid. Thanks to this trick, the Danaans were able to take control of the shore again. Patroclus was able to attack and kill the great Sarpedon and many other enemies. In a rushing throw Ajax was able to seriously wound Hector, who was forced to withdraw momentarily from the battle to recover.. The Trojan after killing Epigeus, left the other opponents alone, concentrating on Patroclus, who in defense hurled a stone at him. The Trojan prince dodged the fatal blow, and it was his third coachman, Cebrio, who was the victim. Around his corpse fought the duelists like two proud beasts, and the squire tried to attack Hector in the legs. In the battle a cloud of dust arose that covered everything, losing sight of Hector, Patroclus attacked killing many other enemies; but at one attack he unknowingly turned against Apollo, who had joined the battle earlier, who defended himself with one hand. The blow to his opponent was so severe that he almost lost his sanity. Apollo, at the height of his wrath, struck Patroclus in the back, disarming him completely: he lost his helmet, shield, spear, and armor. Helpless and confused, he was joined by Euphorbus who struck him with his spear between the shoulder blades but did not have the courage to face him. Hector surprised Patroclus as he was trying to get away from the battle and with one blow of his spear pierced and killed him. Patroclus on the verge of death had time to belittle his defeat by the Trojan hero (“If even twenty warriors like you attacked me,
The deadly clash with Achilles
Glaucus was annoyed by Hector”s behavior, which seemed to disregard the fate of his comrades. To such accusations the Trojan hero retorted, telling him that he had never feared a battle, challenging him to see whether he would act like a coward or a hero on that day. The Trojan prince tried to wear Patroclus” weapons, which actually belonged to Achilles, but only the divine intervention of Zeus and Ares allowed the Trojan to fight with the enemy”s weapons. The battle became confused, with the Trojans trying to take Patroclus” body from the Achaeans, where solid Ajax was in charge of his defense, killing those who tried to recover his body. He dodged yet another attack by Hector, while over the poor dead man”s corpse the slaughter raged. In the course of the fighting, Hector killed Schedio, captain of the Phocians, son of Iphitus, but in the face of the Achaean counterattack he narrowly retreats. Automedon narrowly dodged death at the hands of Hector, while the Trojan prince managed to wound the strong Leitus.. Menelaus pierced Pode, Hector”s young brother-in-law, arousing immense grief in the Trojan leader: this killing, however, was worthwhile to make him fierce again. Polydamantus also reacted with renewed fury, going so far as to seriously wound Peneleus. Tired of Hector”s exploits, Idomeneus struck the Trojan hero in the chest with his spear, failing to wound him because of his armor, but the latter responded by hurling his shaft at him, which plunged into the jaw of Ceranus, Merion”s coachman, who fell dead in the dust.
Achilles upon learning of the tragic death of his beloved Patroclus first wept, comforting himself with his mother, and, enraged, made new friendship with Agamemnon; finally he headed toward his weaponless enemy. The Pelid, thanks to the help of his mother and the god Hephaestus, a skilled forger of weapons and armor, obtained new armor brought by the Nereids, while Homer relates that Thetis, not wanting to wait a single second, brought the armor in person. The invincible warrior expressed a desire to want to kill not only her lover”s murderer but also other warriors, a practice not documented in the reality of the time but seen only in myths.
In the meantime the Trojan hero was grappling with the two Aiacians, still trying to recover Patroclus” body several times, but each time for fear of the enemy weapons he desisted from the attempt. He almost succeeded by frightening the enemies, but as evening fell, Polydamant suggested retreat, an idea that disturbed Hector. The hero thought that stalling was just a tactic in favor of the wealthier Greeks, for Troy was tired from the continuous siege and had no more economic support to feed the army. His new speech incited every warrior to fight again, and as wrong as the advice may have seemed in some ways, it was triumphantly acclaimed. The battle between the two heroes was drawing nearer and nearer, and the gods all wanted to intervene: Apollo, of all the most exposed, tried to engage Aeneas, urging him to dare to duel with Achilles: the Pelid would easily have killed his enemy, but the latter was saved by Poseidon, who although he was the patron deity of the Greeks greatly appreciated Aeneas” pietas. Achilles” fury invested many heroes very close to the Trojan prince, including the young Polydorus, who was his half-brother: at that point Hector advanced, meeting his lifelong enemy.
Priam”s son hurled his weapon, but Athena, now determined to defend the Pelid, with a gust of wind drove it back. Achilles attacked with his staff with tremendous fury, whereupon dense fog came from the field thanks to Apollo, and the next three attacks by the son of Thetis all went awry, finally deciding to change targets: the clash was postponed.
Achilles plunged back into the fighting, wreaking havoc on more of Hector”s comrades, and among his victims were Troos Alastorides, who had surrendered without even attempting to escape, Deucalion, who was cleanly decapitated with his sword (the marrow splashed everywhere and the torso lay sprawled in a lake of blood), and the young and valiant Thracian leader Rigmus; arriving on the banks of the Scamander, he killed another son of Priam, Lycaon, and the strong Asteropeus of the Peons of Macedonia, whose bodies were thrown into the river along with those of many other warriors. He then, by force of arm, forced the Trojans to take refuge behind the solid walls of the city, thanks in part to Apollo, who, transformed into Agenor, baited the enemy. The only one left outside the walls, finally, was Hector himself. Before the enemy reached him, the Trojan”s parents despaired, especially Priam, fearing that the Achaean warrior might make havoc of their son”s lifeless body. Hector had time to think, he wanted to redeem his miserable figure for leading many comrades to their deaths, he was aware that the only way was to defeat an enemy he knew to be stronger than himself. Thoughts then turned to possible defeat, and to a way to avoid it; he then mulled over offering him as much as Menelaus would get from the victory over Paris, but he knew it was too late. The son of Priam on seeing his adversary in a murderous rage, fled, fast enough not to be caught up with his pursuer but not fast enough to escape him. Three full turns of the mighty walls made the duelists: Hector was precluded from entering, but at the same time he was spared the swarm of arrows that the Greeks were ready to shoot, for he remained Achilles” prey.
Athena descended from Olympus with her father”s permission, reached Achilles, tranquilized him, then assumed the guise of Deiphobo, one of Hector”s dearest brothers. The goddess reached the Trojan who was fooled by the false appearance, then decided to go face to face with the enemy. Priam”s son tried to come to an agreement on the burial of the defeated, but the pelid replied that lions did not negotiate with lambs. The first attack was aimed at the Achaean, his spear thanks to the Trojan”s agility missing its target. The shepherd of people launched his attack and the Pelid defended himself with his shield, meanwhile, unseen, Athena picked up Achilles” spear, handing it back to the Achaean warrior. Hector called out to Deiphobo who did not rush in, understood the deception but nevertheless drew his sword beginning the final confrontation between the two. The Greek with his staff carefully observed the enemy”s body, the armor he wore he knew well because it was his own. Achilles after finding the uncovered spot of the enemy, located near the neck, swiftly struck with all his strength, avenging the death of his friend Patroclus. The Trojan, at the point of death, still begged the enemy to leave his remains to his relatives, but the Achæan did not promise. According to a lesser version Hector did not find death against Achilles, but his end came at the hands of Penthesilea, queen of the Amazon people, who for most authors is instead an ally of the Trojans.
As soon as Hector died, all the enemies approached, being struck by his imposing and menacing appearance that he maintained even when dead. In turn each of them struck him without restraint. Achilles showed no mercy or respect for his rival”s body, pierced the sinews and tied him with his belt, Ajax”s gift, to the chariot. He climbed into it, cracked his whip on his horses, dragging Hector across the field. The dead man”s parents watched the spectacle and screamed, while his wife was caught up in the terrible news as she waited confidently for her husband in her home and was preparing a hot bath for him. Afterwards, the son of Thetis was not satisfied; in fact, he was still pondering what outrages he could do to the Trojan”s body to honor Patroclus. He decided again to make chariot rounds around his friend”s tomb, observing a ritual, a custom typical of his people, although the fate was the same as that reserved for the sacred kings of the time. Apollo himself demanded of his father, supreme Zeus, that Hector”s corpse be returned to his people, since a dead man could not pray, and turning on the dead was considered outrageous to the gods. Priam, with the help of Hermes, the messenger of the gods, managed to get to the enemy camp and talk to Achilles. He wept, kissed his knees and pleaded with him, eventually getting the body as he wanted, although other authors instead tell that Priam offered very valuable gifts to convince Achilles to change his mind, and that words alone were not enough. The body remained hidden from his father”s eyes because, if he had seen it in that condition, he might have attacked Achilles and been killed.
Competitions were subsequently held: indeed, it was a typical custom of the time to celebrate with games the death of illustrious personages. In Hector”s case the festivities lasted nine days, during which there were horrendous rumblings to the point that any bird that flew fell from the sky. The funeral procession was opened by Andromache, Hecuba and Helen. The body, according to one of many versions, was buried by order of Apollo in a Greek city kept hidden. Hecuba first searched for her son”s shield, in order to recover the memory of Hector along with his image, thanks to the sweat imprinted on it. In fact, the sweat on the shield is never mentioned by Homer in reference to Hector, but only to Ajax during the sustained combat between the two. According to one version, when Hecuba was captured by the Achaeans she devoured the ashes of her son, which she had hidden in her bosom, to forbid possible new outrages On the tomb of the hero were found tears and a few white hairs, later a kind of legend spread among the locals: in fact, it was wanted that the ghost of Andromache often visited the tomb of her husband. Hector was the Trojan warrior who more than anyone else distinguished himself in war, going so far as to kill 32 heroes among the total 88 killed by the Trojan army. Better than him did Achilles and Aeneas who, together, managed the one, the son of Thetis, to kill 84 enemies, the other, the son of Venus or Aphrodite, to annihilate a total of 69 heroes between Achaeans in the Trojan War, and Italics in the Latian War, as mentioned in the Aeneid. A final hero who killed so many Trojans in the Aeneid was Turno, the king of the Rutuli and son of Daunus, an Italic hero, and the nymph Venilia, also a demigod, who made a massacre of Aeneas” comrades, going so far as to kill as many as 48 enemies by himself.
The myth of Hector struck the imagination of many authors in later centuries; Dante took up his myth several times in the writing of his works. In the Divine Comedy Dante depicts him in the company of Aeneas placing them among the magical spirits of limbo because they had not received baptism. Hector”s name will make a reappearance in Paradise where during the flight of the hypothetical eagle will fly over the hero”s tomb, but Hector”s name will also be present in other works of the poet, where he will always be remembered in pair with Aeneas.
William Shakespeare in his play Troilus and Cressida, also taking cues in part from the earlier work of other authors, had taken up the story of Troy before war broke out, and we find Hector grappling in an attempt to divert his brother from Helen. The story runs through the entire war until the last act, the fifth, where war-weary Hector when he rests his sword is confronted helplessly by Achilles and killed.
Ugo Foscolo recalls the figure of Hector in his work, erecting him as an example of patriotism, stating that anyone who holds his land dear will weep as he remembers its history.
Composers, too, became fascinated by the events of Hector; the Frenchman Hector Berlioz became fascinated first by the events told by Virgil, and then by those told by Shakespeare, eventually composing his greatest opera. Hector in his creation will be lavishing wise counsel on his friend Aeneas, who will eventually be persuaded to leave Troy and travel to Italy to create a new empire.
There is no written evidence to prove Hector”s existence, although his myth is still debated today.
Archaeologist Schliemann, in his research, found what could be called the altar where Hector offered his sacrifices to the supreme Zeus. Manfred Korfmann together with German colleagues managed to find an underground spring near the walls of Troy, the very place where, according to Homer, the character found death. Typical customs of the inhabitants of Thessaly, such as that displayed by Achilles in dragging, with some ritual, the Trojan hero”s mangled body, are also reported by authoritative sources.
The Trojan prince was a man of heart, compassionate and valiant, but also able to honor his enemies. During periods of respite he loved to be in company: his merry libations together with his young brother-in-law Pode are especially remembered. By a great many authors Hector is regarded as the hero par excellence, who though lacking supernatural powers and hated by many gods proudly fought fearsome adversaries, in his being simply a man, though a descendant of Zeus.
Hector sometimes retreated in the face of the enemy, he had to be prodded, as if he forgot he had courage, as Sarpedon did by addressing his friend directly,; but in his thoughts were always his wife and son, he had a family he loved to return to. Priam”s son never reacted in words to spurs but in deeds, to requests for help he responded by fighting for a hundred soldiers.
Although he often did not answer the questions put to him during battles, Hector was adept with words; he only used them when the situation was calm and battles did not loom ahead. The Trojan prince at first was against the war (he advised the return of Helen to her husband) but once it began he fought without hesitation, so much so that he denied his dear wife his wish: that of abandoning battle to stand beside her. The reason for this refusal was the shame he would have covered himself with if he had acted as a deserter, a shame that would have killed him, in his capacity as crown prince. In every battle in which he participated he always gave great respect to the enemy who knew how to face him and at the same time fought almost as if he did not care about life, but rather than seeking eternal fame, he fled from the fear of being called a coward. Hector was well aware that he was a model for the Trojans to look up to and had no modesty in admitting that he was famous among his people.
Rarely mentioned in the texts is Hector”s appearance: he was imposing almost as if he were a giant, in fact one of his many appellations came from one of the cities where such creatures lived. He also had black hair, typical for his population Agile and quick, he dodged every spear thrown at him and managed not to be caught up by Achilles in the race. A description of the Trojan prince is found in Strauss where he asserts, according to the data he collected, that he had flowing hair; his hair was worn long at the nape of his neck and short on his forehead,, perhaps he had a ponytail, and he was shaved; he also wore a skirt and gold earrings.
The criticisms aimed at the figure of Hector are for the most part set forth in the Iliad itself. Enemies, even ascribing to him fame as a warrior, claimed that he was always aided by deities who descended with him into the field, as in the case of Ares, but even worse than he did Zeus, who forgave him every possible offense to the people of the Achaeans, they who could boast of divine origins.
He appeared in the eyes of his enemies as a person so haughty that he disregarded even the gods. In the course of the Iliad Hector, as Homer points out, will incur false promises to which critics object, pointing out that the promise was not broken through his own demerit.
The relationship with Paris
Even though Paris was his brother, Hector for the sake of the honor of the family and his kingdom did not hesitate to draw his sword against him, threatening to kill him; Paris for his part welcomed any criticism from his brother, stating that his heart is always sharp as a sword. Despite this, Hector supported his brother in numerous decisions.
The relationship with Andromache
There was respect between the couple, and the wife tried to be helpful to her husband as much as she could, pointing out, for example, a possible weak point in the walls of Troy.
Andromache, during the war, could not resist the lack of news from the battlefield; as soon as she heard about one of the victories by the Achaeans, she tried to reach her husband hoping to see him still alive. The woman had lost most of her family to Achilles and did not want to lose her beloved as well, whom she considered not only husband but also brother and father. Hector expressed all his love when he visited her in the sixth book: on that occasion he clearly stated that more than the fate of the city, or of his parents or the people all, and even of his own life, more than anything else he cared about the fate of his bride.
Hector returned to Andromache during a pause, having followed the advice of Elyenus, who, endowed with divinatory faculties, had advised him to compact the ranks of the combatants and he alone re-enter the city to arrange a sacrifice to the goddess Athena. After asking his mother Hecuba to offer a gift to the deity, he took advantage of the brief pause to meet Andromache, who had climbed the highest tower of the Scee gates to follow the fate of the clash. His wife begged him not to clash with Achilles, since he had already killed her father and her seven brothers. But Hector, a brave hero, sadly refused Andromache”s pleas, for fighting was his duty, despite the looming danger of death.
Hector is often depicted in ancient art in the scenes that made him famous in the Iliad, for example, he is seen in the François vase from Vulci, or the famous duel with Achilles is found depicted on a great many objects of the time such as pottery dated around the fifth century B.C., Etruscan urns and vases, and even in Roman sarcophagi. Of the many paintings depicting him there was almost never a work devoted entirely to him, but he was always depicted with other heroes to keep him company. It is said that Polignoto in the lesche of Delphi was the first to dedicate a figurative work to him, in which Pausanias saw great sorrow.
The image of the Trojan hero is also found in the now-lost Ark of Cypsis, in many miniatures of the Ambrosian Iliad, and his figure was also treated on ancient coins of Troy. In the Domus Aurea, a residence commissioned by Nero, the Roman emperor, a room was built dedicated to Hector and Andromache, as reported by historians of the time who witnessed the construction of the work such as Pliny the Elder
In medieval literature Hector thanks to the tale of the Iliad will be idealized as a perfect knight, to whom everyone should be inspired, as told in the poetic cycle Scenes from the fall of Troy of 1858. Later we find the son of Priam everywhere, in sculptures such as those of Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen, in dance thanks to Werner Egk in 1948 and Peter von Winter in 1962, in music thanks to Andreas Meyer-Laubercon”s Hektor-Trilogie in 1963. Even in playing cards we find the figure of Hector, from whom the jack of diamonds is inspired. In modern times the love between Hector and Andromache has also been portrayed in metaphysical works with Giorgio de Chirico, revisited by the artist in a modern key, both in paintings and statues.
Tradition has it that his bones were moved to the Theban stronghold by order of an oracle; from here his cult spread to various cities, among them Thebes Strabo, on the other hand, writes of a forest consecrated to the Trojan prince.
The relationship with Teti”s son
Achilles held Hector in high esteem, knowing more of the warrior”s skill than his meek character: in fact, during the flow of the Iliad when he thought he had come face to face with death from causes unrelated to war, he regretted that he had not been killed by the enemy. The clash between the two came close several times: first when Hector challenged the stronger opponent, and second when the son of Priam faced Patroclus. Other stories are told about their encounters, and the reasons why the duel was postponed, including one where the wise Helenus wounded the Greek hero in the hand with an arrow, shot from a bow of Apollo and guided by the hand of Zeus.
According to some versions of the myth, the son of Thetis was about to betray the Greeks and hand over the field to Hector. This was because the Trojan had made such a condition in order to consent to his marriage to Polyxena, but knowing that if he failed he would have to kill his relatives, he renounced.
Hector in the course of the war had three charioteers, all of whom were killed in the same way: an enemy, always different, made an attack with his own weapon of which he is a master, the agile Trojan dodged the attack each time, and each time the enemy struck his charioteer. The names of the charioteers were:
The usefulness of a coachman was obvious: a warrior could not take aim to hurl his weapon and drive at the same time, furthermore, the possibility of dodging attacks was also reduced because of the concentration required. Hector for his part when fighting thought only of the enemy, so much so that on one occasion at the expense of the epithet (tamer of horses, used in the Iliad), his coachman had to take his hands and hold the reins of a horse. After the death of the last coachman Hector had no others, partly because of the short time he had left, in fact he faced Achilles on foot and not in the chariot as he was wont to do.
The horses of the Trojan prince
In the Iliad Hector”s horses are named: Podargo, Xanthus, Aitonus, and Lightning, where in the manner of men the Trojan prince spoke to them wanting to spur them on to give their best, against the strong Nestore and Diomedes. Doubtful is the accuracy of this list, as a quadriga is not a usual element in the writings of the Iliad and especially the later verbs are referred to in dual form. Quadrigas were actually present in the enemy army and probably Hector wanted, as happened later, to compare himself with the Achaeans by stealing enemy weapons and techniques.
The relationship with the gods
As always when it comes to Greek mythology, the deities are architects of the fate of humans and sometimes take sides with armies or men. They sometimes used to watch closely the challenges they liked best.
Hector in the Iliad
The shepherd of peoples first appears in Book II at the head of the Trojan army. Famous is his farewell to his wife and son in Book VI, one of the saddest and most moving in history. Homer dedicates the title of several chapters of his poem to him:
The Iliad itself ends with verse 804 of Book XXIV still naming him.
Greeks and Achaeans
In the Iliad the besiegers of Troy are called Achaeans, Danaans or Argives, and Achaia the area they occupied. The Homeric designations are all traceable to the Peloponnesian area and, in keeping with the tradition of ethnonyms referring to the Greek people, seem to leave Attica out. As Thucydides points out, the same unitary conception of the Greek people was nonexistent, as was the consequent dualism with the barbarians. These cultural categories, and the related contrasts, would become established in later eras, always remaining alien to the Homeric world.
Also in later times the designations of Achaeans and Argives were then distinguished, to which corresponded well-determined regions of Greece while the ethnonym of Hellenes (Héllenes) together with the related toponym Hellas (Hellás) came to be established. In fact, these two designations, initially pertaining to a people and an area of southern Thessaly, would in time end up referring to the entire Greek world, according to a process of generalization that probably appears to have already been accomplished in the 7th century BCE where once the Achaeans
The toponym Achaia may specifically refer to a region of the northern Peloponnese and an area of southeastern Thessaly, the so-called Achaia Phthiotida. Quite another meaning would later take on in imperial times with the establishment of the Roman province of Achaia.
- Ettore (mitologia)
- ^ Jacques de Longuyon, Voeux du Paon, 1312.
- ^ R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 399.
- ^ This etymology is given under “Hector” in the Online Etymological Dictionary, which, if true, would make it an Indo-European name, of root *seĝh-. The Dardanians would not have been Greek, but the language of the city of Troy is still an open question.
- ^ Malalas, Chronography 5.105
- ^ Dares Phrygius, History of the Fall of Troy 12
- Ilíada, libro III
- Ilíada, libro IV
- Ilíada, libro VI
- Ilíada, libro VII
- 1,0 1,1 1,2 1,3 1,4 «Гектор» (Ρωσικά)
- 2,0 2,1 2,2 2,3 2,4 «Hector» (Ρωσικά)
- «Астианакс или Скамандрий» (Ρωσικά)
- 4,0 4,1 «Приам» (Ρωσικά)