HECTOR

Hector, in Greek mythology, the eldest son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and husband of Andromache. In Homer's Iliad, Hector is the greatest of the Trojan warriors. As commander of the Trojan forces he is instrumental in holding off the Greek army for nine years and finally succeeds in forcing the Greeks back to their ships. During the battle, however, Hector kills Patroclus, the bosom friend of Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors. Achilles has withdrawn from the fighting because of a quarrel with King Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek forces, but in order to avenge the death of Patroclus, he returns to the battlefield. Grief-stricken and frenzied, Achilles pursues Hector three times around the walls of Troy, kills him, and then ties his body to his chariot and drags it around the walls and back to Patroclus's funeral pyre. Learning that the Greeks are withholding burial rites from his son, the sorrowing Priam makes his way behind Greek battle lines with the aid of the god Hermes and begs Achilles to relinquish Hector's corpse. Moved by the sorrow of the aged king, Achilles agrees to yield the corpse and declares a truce to permit the Trojans to honor Hector with a suitable burial. A description of the funeral honors paid to Hector concludes the Iliad. In contrast to the fierce and alienated Achilles, Hector is depicted as a devoted family man and chivalrous warrior.