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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.


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 pestered scholars with obscure questions about ancient mythology, with one of his favorites being "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]

Hecuba in popular culture[edit]

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:


  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


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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Hecuba "The Magic" [Official Video] HD

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Hecuba "Tom and Jerry" live on Estonian National TV

Hecuba "Tom and Jerry" live on Estonian National TV.


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1062 news items


Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:18:45 -0700

Hecuba. Redeemer College's production of the Greek tragedy Hecuba finishes its run Saturday with shows at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.. In the show, the battle for Troy has been fought and the armies of Agamemnon are returning to their homeland with their ...

Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Spectator
Tue, 17 Mar 2015 10:48:45 -0700

Among them is a chorus of Trojan women, led by Hecuba, the former Queen of Troy. Hecuba has lost everything: her husband, sons, city, wealth and status. She's now a slave. Hecuba's story still speaks to the disbelief and despair of those left to carry ...
Times Herald-Record
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:26:59 -0800

“The Trojan Women” by Euripides takes place as Troy collapses in flames after the Greeks have smuggled their gift horse into the city. The Trojan heroes are dead and their wives and children have been taken captive by the Greeks. Hecuba, the wife of ...
Student Pulse
Wed, 18 Mar 2015 01:15:00 -0700

... a villain in Sophocles' Philoctetes, a self-serving opportunist in Sophocles' Ajax, a deceitful figure in Virgil's Aeneid, and a scoundrel in Euripides' Hecuba. Each of these different interpretations draws on different features of Odysseus's ...


Fri, 06 Mar 2015 06:15:00 -0800

De ce Hecuba? – un spectacol în care viaţa şi moartea se întîlnesc, care îmbină complexitatea tehnicii teatrale cu actualitatea apelînd la mijloacele multimedia pentru a crea în mod simbolic spaţii suprarealiste (lumea oamenilor şi lumea zeilor ...

The New York Review of Books (blog)

The New York Review of Books (blog)
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 09:36:45 -0700

Hecuba's cry of pain is demeaned as a bark “just like a dog”; Dante apprehends the “doglike faces” of the traitors trapped in the ice of Caïna, the unrepentant Bocca “barking” like a tortured dog, and Count Ugolino gnawing at the skull of Cardinal ...

Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Spectator
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:26:15 -0700

Hecuba. A play by Euripides. March 25 to 28, 7:30 p.m. Redeemer Auditorium, 777 Garner Rd. E., Ancaster. Tickets $13, $11 student/senior, $6 group of 10 or more. Dinner and theatre, 5:30 p.m. March 28, $35. 905-648-2139, ext. 4211 or ticketwindow.ca.

Omaha World-Herald

Omaha World-Herald
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 23:04:30 -0700

for stranded movie producer Harold Hecuba (Phil Silvers). Several more crowd-pleasers await those who attend today's finale, capped by Peter Tchaikovsky's “1812 Overture” and a rousing encore of John Philip Sousa's “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” By ...

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