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This page is about the mythological figure; for other uses, see Hecuba (disambiguation)

Hecuba (/ˈhɛkjʊbə/; also Hecabe, Hécube; Ancient Greek: Ἑκάβη Hekábē, pronounced [hekábɛ͜ɛ]) was a queen in Greek mythology, the wife of King Priam of Troy during the Trojan War,[1] with whom she had 19 children. These children included several major characters of Homer's Iliad such as the warriors Hector and Paris and the prophetess Cassandra.

Parents[edit]

Ancient sources vary as to the parentage of Hecuba.[2] According to Homer, Hecuba was the daughter of King Dymas of Phrygia,[3] but Euripides[4] and Virgil[5] write of her as the daughter of the Thracian king Cisseus. The mythographers Pseudo-Apollodorus and Hyginus leave open the question which of the two was her father, with Pseudo-Apollodorus adding a third alternate option: Hecuba's parents could as well be the river god Sangarius and Metope.[6][7] Some versions from non-extant works are summarized by a scholiast on Euripides' Hecuba:[8] according to those, she was a daughter of Dymas or Sangarius by the Naiad Euagora, or by Glaucippe the daughter of Xanthus (Scamander?); the possibility of her being a daughter of Cisseus is also discussed. A scholiast on Homer relates that Hecuba's parents were either Dymas and the nymph Eunoe or Cisseus and Telecleia;[9] the latter option would make her a full sister of Theano, which is also noted by the scholiast on Euripides cited above.

According to Suetonius in The Twelve Caesars, the emperor Tiberius liked to annoy scholars with obscure questions, and one of his favorites was "Who was Hecuba's mother?"[10]

Hecuba in the Iliad[edit]

The death of Hector on a Roman sarcophagus, c. 200 AD

Hecuba appears six times in the Iliad. In Book 6.326–96, she meets Hector upon his return to the polis and offers him the libation cup, instructing him to offer it to Zeus and to drink of it himself. Taking Hector's advice, she chooses a gown taken from Alexander's treasure to give as an offering to the goddess and leads the Trojan women to the temple of Athena to pray for help. In Book 22, she pleads with Hector not to fight Achilles, for fear of "never get[ting] to mourn you laid out on a bier."[11] In Book 24.201–16, she is stricken with anxiety upon hearing of Priam's plan to retrieve Hector's body from Achilles' hut. Further along in the same episode, at 24.287–98, she offers Priam the libation cup and instructs him to pray to Zeus so that he may receive a favourable omen upon setting out towards the Achaean camp. Unlike in the first episode in which Hector refuses her offer of the cup, Priam accepts and is rewarded with the requested omen. Finally, she laments Hector's death in a well-known speech at 24.748–59.

Hecuba in other classical works[edit]

The Bibliotheca (Library) of Pseudo-Apollodorus states that Hecuba had a son named Troilus with the god Apollo. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated if Troilus reached the age of twenty alive, but he was killed by Achilles.

Hecuba is a main character in two plays by Euripides: The Trojan Women and Hecuba. The Trojan Women describes the aftermath of the fall of Troy, including Hecuba's enslavement by Odysseus. Hecuba also takes place just after the fall of Troy. Polydorus, the youngest son of Priam and Hecuba, is sent to King Polymestor for safekeeping, but when Troy falls, Polymestor murders Polydorus. Hecuba learns of this, and when Polymestor comes to the fallen city, Hecuba, by trickery, blinds him and kills his two sons.

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

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

Inferno XXX: 13–20

Hecuba's children with Priam[edit]

See also List of King Priam's children

Hecuba is frequently referenced in classical literature, and in many medieval, Renaissance, and modern works. Among the works which are about Hecuba are:

Hecuba is mentioned in:

The name Hecuba or Hecubah appears occasionally:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition: "Hecuba"
  2. ^ Frazer's note 21 on Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 3. 12. 5. In: Apollodorus, The Library, with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921.
  3. ^ Iliad, 16. 715
  4. ^ Euripides, Hecuba, 3
  5. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 7. 320; 10. 705,
  6. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 3. 12. 5
  7. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae, 91, 111, 249
  8. ^ Scholia on Euripides, Hecuba, 3
  9. ^ Scholia on Iliad, 16. 718, referring to Pherecydes and Athenion for the two versions respectively
  10. ^ Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Chapter 2 (Tiberius), paragraph 72
  11. ^ Homer, The Iliad. Book 22, line 86

References[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Tsotakou-Karveli. Lexicon of Greek Mythology. Athens: Sokoli, 1990.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hecuba — Please support Wikipedia.
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39 news items

 
Artvoice
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:56:15 -0700

HECUBA AGAIN, staged reading of Frank Canino's adaptation of the play by Euripides, presented by Albert Invincible Theatre as part of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, starring Kathleen Betsko Yale, Darleen Pickering Hummert, Jennifer Gold,Virgina ...

The Portland Mercury

The Portland Mercury
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:48:45 -0700

Last year, the group used gutteral moans inspired by Euripides' Hecuba for a climax in Song of the Dodo, an extinct-animal lamentation that also featured Rebecca Lingafelter tragicomically chomping on a raw egg. "People either loved it, and felt that ...
 
Port Townsend Leader
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:30:00 -0700

Katrina Hays, making her KCPT debut in the leading role of Queen Hecuba, says she is deeply affected by the endurance of the play's theme. “It was written over 2,400 years ago, but it's still happening. Women are still being taken into slavery ...
 
STLtoday.com
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 03:52:30 -0700

... Dog Theatre), the earthy Josie in Eugene O'Neill's “A Moon for the Misbegotten” at the West End Players Guild in 2003, and the tragic queen Hecuba, whom she played in an unforgettable 1996 production of “The Trojan Women” at St. Louis Shakespeare.
 
Buffalo News
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 21:18:45 -0700

Monday, 6 to 7:30 P.M.: The Buffalo Infringement Festival presents “Hecuba Again: Euripedes Deconstructed,” a staged reading featuring Kathleen Betsko Yale, Darleen Pickering Hummert, Verneice Turner, April Jones, Virginia Brannon, Jennifer Gold, ...
 
Omaha World-Herald
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 23:00:00 -0700

For the Greeks, he was Heracles, son of Zeus. For the Romans, he was Hercules, son of Jupiter. In both cases, he's half-god, half-human and known for his strength. Also for his adventures, including the Twelve Labors, in which he slayed or captured ...
 
Prospect
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 02:32:24 -0700

Laurence Boswell (known in theatreland as “the slug”) started out confidently on his RSC production of Hecuba (publicity material put his name over the star: “Laurence Boswell directs Vanessa Redgrave”) but by press night in early April he found ...
 
Buffalo News
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:07:08 -0700

American Repertory Theatre of Western New York's annual One-Act Showcase in its theater at 16 Linwood Ave., Subversive Theatre's presentation of the Slawomir Mrozek play “The Police” also in the Manny Fried and “Hecuba Again,” Frank Canino's ...
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