Hecuba  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
The Dream of Hecuba

Hekábe was a queen in Greek mythology, the wife of King Priamos of Troy, with whom she had 19 children. The most famous of her children was Hector of Troy. She was of Phrygian birth; her father was Dymas, and her mother Eunoë was said to be a daughter of Sangarius, god of the Sangarius River, the principal river of ancient Phrygia.

In the Iliad, Hecuba appears as the mother of Hector, and laments his death in a well-known speech in Book 24 of the epic.

With the god Apollo, Hecuba had a son named Troilus. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated as long as Troilus reached the age of twenty alive. He was killed by Achilles during the Trojan War.

Polydorus, Priam's youngest son by Hecuba, was sent with gifts of jewelry and gold to the court of King Polymestor to keep him safe during the Trojan War. The fighting grew vicious and Priam was frightened for the child's safety. After Troy fell, Polymestor threw Polydorus to his death to take the treasure for himself. Hecuba, though she was enslaved by the Achaeans when the city fell, eventually avenged her son, blinding Polymestor and killing his children.

In another tradition, Hecuba went insane upon seeing the corpses of her children Polydorus and Polyxena. Dante described this episode, which he derived from Italian sources.

A third story says that she was given to Odysseus as a slave, but as she snarled and cursed at him, the gods turned her into a dog, allowing her to escape.

Hekábe in arts and literature

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