ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Heroic Hector in Greek Mythology

Updated on February 2, 2015
Colin Quartermain profile image

Having travelled through Italy, Greece and the Aegean in his youth, Colin quickly became interested in the ancient mythology of the region.

The Trojan War is one of the most famous events from Greek mythology, and most people today have heard of it. Today, there is no way of knowing whether there was a war between the Achaeans and the Trojans in early antiquity, but the mythological tale of the war, or at least a large part of it, can be found in Homer’s Iliad.

The names of many heroes who fought at Troy are still recognisable today, and the likes of Achilles, Ajax the Greater, Odysseus and Diomedes are relatively famous. These four heroes though are Greek heroes, and those heroes who fought for Troy are less well known; Paris is arguably the most famous Trojan, although he is often portrayed as being unheroic; Aeneas is more famous for events after the fall of Troy; and then of course there is Hector.

The Iliad

Hector of Troy

In the time when the Iliad is set, King Priam is on the throne of Troy, having been made king years earlier by Heracles. Priam was famous for his large number of children, possibly 68 sons and 18 daughters, by several wives.

Hector though, was the eldest son of Priam and Hecabe, and therefore brother to the likes of Deiphobus, Helenus, Cassandra and Laodice.

Hector was the favoured child of Priam, and was heir apparent to the throne of Troy; destiny though played out differently for the Trojan prince.

Hector and Andromache

Sergey Petrovich Postnikov (1838–1880) PD-art-100
Sergey Petrovich Postnikov (1838–1880) PD-art-100 | Source

Hector in Greek Mythology

Hector comes to prominence during the Trojan War, and there is little mention of the Trojan hero previously. That being said, the gathering Greek forces, recognised that to ensure victory they would have to overcome the mightiest of Trojan warriors, Hector.

Hector was married to Andromache, a Cilician princess; and together the pair would later have one son, Astyanax.

Andromache is often portrayed as the perfect wife, but during the war, she would implore Hector not to go onto the battlefield outside the city, but to remain at her side, and stay alive.

Hector would refuse his wife’s request, even though he recognised that it was almost inevitable that Troy would fall to the attacking forces. Hector believed that his first duty was to his city, rather than his wife.

Hector would place the blame for the predicament of Troy squarely on the shoulders of Paris, his brother, but nevertheless, Hector did his duty. It was this dutifulness, as well as piety and courage, which ensured Hector was held in the very highest esteem by the Ancient Greeks.

Hector Admonishing Paris

Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751–1829) PD-art-100
Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751–1829) PD-art-100 | Source

The Warrior Hector

Hector is primarily remembered for his courage and his fighting skill. Hyginius in Fabulae would suggest that Hector alone killed 30,000 or more of the Achaean force, although, in most cases, the entire Achaean force only comprised of an army between 70,000 and 130,000 men.

Heroes at Troy are normally described by the number of worthy opponents that they killed, and as such, Hector is normally credited with killing 30 Achaean heroes, including the likes of Protesilaus and Archesilaus.

Hector is primarily remembered for three individual contests during the Trojan War.

Hector and Ajax

Hector, angered by Paris having brought a besieging army to Troy, seeks to end the conflict quickly, and goes out to meet the Achaean forces. Hector makes a challenge, calling for the bravest of the Achaean forces to face him in single combat.

Initially, no one on the Greek side comes forth, but when lots are drawn, Telamonian Ajax, Ajax the Greater, goes forth to fight Hector.

Hector and Ajax fight the whole day, with neither gaining a significant advantage over their opponent. With night drawing in, the pair agree to call the fight a draw, and are impressed with the courage, skill and strength of their opponent. In recognition of each other, gifts are exchanged. Hector receives a girdle from Ajax, and Ajax receives a sword from Hector; both gifts would play a role in the downfall of both heroes.

Hector and Patrolcus

As the war dragged on, Agamemnon and Achilles fell out, and the latter would subsequently refuse to fight. The absence of Achilles allowed the Trojan forces to gain the upper hand in the conflict, and the Trojans came close to burning the Achaean ships.

Patrolcus, Achilles’ closest friend, managed to convince Achilles to lend him his armour, and Patroclus would push the Trojans back from the shoreline.

The day’s fighting is almost over when Patroclus encounters Hector. Patroclus may have the powerful armour of Achilles, but he does not have his skill, and is not a match for the ability of Hector either, and Patroclus is soon killed.

The Achaean forces manage to reclaim the body of Patrolcus, but by then the armour of Achilles is in the possession of Hector.

Hector and Achilles

The death of Patroclus convinces Achilles to fight again, and with new armour he re-enters the battlefield. Hector briefly withdraws from the frontline, as it has been foretold that he would die at the hands of Achilles, just as it had been foretold that Achilles would die soon after Hector’s death.

Achilles and Hector recognise the inevitability of the situation, and so the pair end up fighting each other. An immense fight begins, although Achilles is aided by the guidance of Athena, and eventually Achilles’s spear penetrates the neck of Hector, killing him. Troy has lost its greatest hero.

Achilles Triumphant

Fresco from the Achilleion Palace PD-life-70
Fresco from the Achilleion Palace PD-life-70 | Source

The Body of Hector

Achilles was still angry over the death of Patrolcus, and so Achilles tied the body of Hector to his chariot, making use of the girdle of Ajax, and so the body of hector was pulled behind the chariot. Achilles even thought of giving the body to the dogs, and refused to hand the body over to the Trojans for proper burial.

Hector though had not been completely abandoned by the gods, and Aphrodite and Apollo used their powers to ensure that the body was protected despite being pulled behind the chariot.

Eventually, King Priam would enter the Greek camp looking for his son’s body. Priam was aided by Hermes, who shielded the king from the sight of the Achaean guards. Priam arrived at the tent of Achilles, and asked the Greek hero directly for the return of Hector’s body. Thetis had already warned her son of the need to return the body, and taken with the words of Priam, Achilles allowed the king to return to Troy with his son’s body.

Troy mourned the loss of their favourite son, just as Andromache mourned the loss of her husband, and for 12 days funeral games were held in honour of Hector. With the death of Hector though, Troy had lost its last hope.

Priam comes for Hector's Body

Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806–1858) PD-art-100
Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806–1858) PD-art-100 | Source

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • Colin Quartermain profile imageAUTHOR

    Colin Quartermain 

    3 years ago

    Thanks for reading - yep Hector is one of those heroes normally overlooked

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 

    3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    wonderful greek history that i had never learn when i was in school, my teachers are geeks

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)