Hector

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Image:Hector brought back to Troy.jpg
Hector brought back to Troy. From a Roman sarcophagus.

In Greek mythology, Hector ( Ἑκτωρ, "holding fast"), or Hektor, was a Trojan prince and one of the greatest fighters in the Trojan War.

He was the son of Priam and Hecuba, and leader of Trojans and their allies in defense of Troy. He initially did not approve of war between the Achaeans and the Trojans. Early in the Iliad he proposed the duel between his brother Paris and Menelaus to put a stop to the war. The duel however led to inconclusive results due to divine intervention.

Later on in the story Andromache, Hector's wife, pleads with him to withdraw from the field for her sake as well as his son's (Astyanax). With understanding, compassion, and tenderness Hector saw her gloomy future and convinced her to let him leave. He expressed hope that his baby son, who shrunk in terror from his father's helmet, will be proud of his father and one day be a better man than himself. Then Hector left his family to fight.

At another point in the Iliad, Hector, knowing that he was not fated to die yet, challenged any one of the Greek warriors to single combat. After the initial reluctance of the Argives to accept the challenge and after Nestor's chiding, the major Greek heroes stepped up to the challenge and drew by lot to see who would face Hector. Ajax won the lot, and fought Hector to a standstill for the entire day, with neither able to obtain victory. At the end of the duel they each expressed admiration for each others courage and skill. Hector gave Ajax his sword (which Ajax would later use to commit suicide), while Ajax gave Hector his girdle.

Overnight, the Greeks made a wall to protect their ships. Hector formed three divisions to try and breach the wall and try to set fire to the ships. Eventually Hector smashed open the ramparts and even set fire to Protesilaus' ship, which was the apex of the Trojan assault. The success however would not last because Patrocles (Achilles' closest companion), disguised in the armour of Achilles, would soon enter the combat leading the Myrmidons and the rest of the Achaeans to force a Trojan withdrawal.

After Patroclus had routed the Trojan army, Hector, with the aid of Apollo and Euphorbus, killed Patroclus. He then took the armour off of his victim (which was Achilles' armour), and wore it for himself. The death of Patroclus led to another Trojan rally and offensive, and a fierce fight for the body ensued. Hector would have made off with the body had not Achilles, who had just heard the news of his friend's death, given a loud and chilling warcry which made the Trojans scatter in terror. This led the body to be retrieved by the Danai and caused both armies to rest from battle. Patroclus' death caused Achilles to renounce his wrath that kept him out of action, and vowed to avenge his fallen comrade by killing Hector. That night the Trojans held a council as to what to do. Hector's comrade-in-arms Polydamas suggested that the Trojans waste no time and return to the walls of the city where they would be safer from Achilles' wrath. Hector however, would not listen, thinking the Trojans were still on the cusp of a total victory. The next day Achilles, killing many, routed the Trojans back to the city. Hector was left alone to face him. Seized by fear Hector turned to flee, as Achilles gave chase to him three times around the city. Hector then mastered his fear and turned to face Achilles. But Athena, in the guise of Hector's brother Deiphobus, deluded Hector. Hector threw a spear at Achilles which missed, then, when Hector turned to face his supposed brother to retrieve another weapon he saw no one there. At that moment he realised that he was doomed. He requested from Achilles that his body be returned to Priam for a rightful burial, which Achilles refused.

Achilles recognised the armour that his foe was wearing as his, and knew how to exploit its weakness, there was a chink in the armour at the throat. He plunged his spear through the chink and Hector was killed. Achilles then slit Hector's heels, and took the girdle that Ajax had given him and passed it through the slits of the heels. He than fastened the girdle to his chariot and drove his fallen enemy through the dust to the Danaan camp. For the next few days Achilles mistreated the body, but it remained preserved from all injury by the gods. Priam soon came to ransom for the body. When he returned to Troy with the body of his son, and it was given full funeral honours. Even Helen mourned Hector, for he had always been kind to her and protected her from spite. The last lines of the Iliad are dedicated to Hector's funeral.

According to the Greek travel writer Pausanias, who lived in the mid-second century A.D., the city of Thebes sent a delegation to Troy to recover the bones of Hector.

Although a Pagan, Hector is listed as one of the Nine Worthies by Jean de Longuyon for his bravery and chivalrous spirit.

Hector is commemorated as the face of the Jack of diamonds in French playing cards.

Homer, Iliad Apollodorus, Bibliotheke III, xii, 5-6; Apollodorus, Epitome IV, 2.

[edit] Later treatments

da:Hektor de:Hektor es:Héctor eo:Hektoro eu:Hektor fr:Hector ko:헥토르 hr:Hektor it:Ettore he:הקטור la:Hector lt:Hektoras hu:Hektór nl:Hector (mythologie) ja:ヘクトル pl:Hektor pt:Heitor ro:Hector ru:Гектор simple:Hector fi:Hektor sv:Hektor tr:Hektor zh:赫克托耳

Hector

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