Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

In myth, son of Priam and Hecuba, husband of Andromache and father of Astyanax, and the greatest of the Trojan champions. In the Iliad he first appears leading the Trojans out to battle; he reproaches Paris for avoiding Menelaus, and arranges the truce and the single combat between the two. He takes a prominent part in the fighting of bks. 5 and 6, but in the latter goes back to the city to arrange for offerings to be made to the gods. He thus meets Andromache and Astyanax on the city walls in one of the best‐known scenes of the Iliad, then returns with Paris to the battle. In bk. 7 he challenges any Greek hero to single combat, and is met by the greater Aias (1), who has the better of the encounter; they part with an exchange of gifts. In bk. 8 he drives the Greeks back to their camp and bivouacs on the plain. In the long battle of bks. 11–17 he takes a prominent part, leading the main attack on the fortifications of the Greek camp, which nearly succeeds in burning the Greek ships. During the battle he is struck down with a stone thrown by Aias, but restored to strength by Apollo at the command of Zeus. He kills Patroclus, and strips him of his arms despite the efforts of the Greeks. After the appearance of Achilles at the trench, full of rage at Patroclus' death, Hector again bivouacs on the plain, against the advice of Polydamas. After the Trojan rout on the following day, he alone refuses to enter Troy, but stands his ground and waits for Achilles despite the entreaties of his parents. At Achilles' approach he flees, but after a long chase halts, deceived by Athena into thinking that Deiphobus has come to his aid. In the subsequent fight he is killed, and with his dying words begs Achilles to return his body to Priam, then predicts Achilles' own death. But Achilles, still overcome with rage and hatred, drags Hector's body behind his chariot, though the gods keep it safe from harm. Finally, when Priam comes by night to the Greek camp to beg for the return of his son, Achilles' anger is eased and replaced by pity. The body is ransomed, an eleven‐day truce is agreed, and the Iliad ends with Hector's funeral.

Hector is depicted in art from the 7th cent. on, setting out for battle, fighting Aias or some other hero, meeting his death at Achilles' hands, and his body being dragged and ransomed.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.