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HAMLET: What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her? William Shakespeare


Ancient Hecuba Sculpture

Hecuba (also Hekuba or Hekabe) was a Trojan queen in Greek mythology, daughter of Dymas.

With her husband, King Priam, Hecuba had twenty children including Creusa, Hector, Antiphus, Deiphobus, Ilione, Laodice, Polydorus, Polites, Helenus, Paris and Cassandra.

With the god Apollo, Hecuba had a son named Troilius. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated as long as Troilius reached the age of twenty alive. He and his sister, Polyxena, were ambushed and killed by Achilles during the Trojan War.


Hector takes the armor from his parents Priam and Hekuba.

Polydorus, Priam's youngest son, was sent with gifts of jewelry and gold to the court of King Polymestor to keep him safe during the Trojan War. The fighting was getting 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.

Greek Mythology

Hecuba Blinding Polymestor, Giuseppe Maria Crespi

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

E quando la fortuna volse in basso
l'altezza de' Troian che tutto ardiva,
sì che 'nsieme col regno il re fu casso,
Ecuba trista, misera e cattiva,
poscia che vide Polissena morta,
e del suo Polidoro in su la riva
del mar si fu la dolorosa accorta,
forsennata latrò sì come cane . . .
And when fortune overturned the pride
of the Trojans, who dared everything, so that
both the king and his kingdom were destroyed,
Poor wretched captured Hecuba,
after she saw her Polyxena dead
and found her Polydorus on the beach,
was driven mad by sorrow
and began barking like a dog . . .

Inferno XXX: 13-20

Greek Mythology

Hecuba and Polyxena, Merry-Joseph Blondel

Hecuba is seen as the leading character in the play, The Trojan Women (in Greek, Troiades) and Hecuba, both tragedies by the Greek playwright Euripides.

Apollo also fell in love with Cassandra, daughter of Hecuba and Priam, and Troilius's half-sister. He promised Cassandra the gift of prophecy to seduce her, but she rejected him afterwards. Enraged, Apollo--unable to take back his gift--cursed her, so that no one would ever believe her prophecies.


108 Hecuba is an asteroid.

Constantine Cavafy, Trojans

Greek Mythology

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