AskDefine | Define hector

Dictionary Definition

Hector n : (Greek mythology) a mythical Trojan who was killed by Achilles during the Trojan War v : be bossy towards; "Her big brother always bullied her when she was young" [syn: strong-arm, bully, browbeat, bullyrag, ballyrag, boss around, push around]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Hector, character in the Iliad.



  1. To intimidate or dominate in a blustering way.
  2. To behave like a bully; swagger.

Extensive Definition

In Greek mythology, Hectōr (, "holding fast"), or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and one of the greatest fighters in the Trojan War. He is the son of Priam and Hecuba, descendant of Dardanus,who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy. He acts as leader of the Trojans and their allies in the defense of Troy. Hector is one of the Nine Worthies, as he is known not only for his courage but also for his noble nature.

Trojan War

Reluctant warrior

Hector does not approve of war between the Greeks and the Trojans. Observing Paris avoiding combat with Menelaus, he upbraids him with having brought trouble on his whole country and now refusing to fight. Paris therefore proposes a duel between himself and Menelaus, with Helen to go to the victor, and the war to stop. The duel, however, leads to inconclusive results due to divine intervention. Aphrodite leads Paris off the field. Menelaus claims a victory, but Pandarus wounds him from cover with an arrow causing the war to begin again.
The Greeks attack and drive the Trojans back. Hector must now go out to lead a counter-attack. His wife, Andromache, porting their son, Astyanax, intercepts him at the gate, pleading with him not to go out for her sake as well as his son's. Hector knows that Troy and the house of Priam are doomed to fall and that their gloomy fate will be to die or go into slavery in a foreign land. With understanding, compassion, and tenderness he explains that he cannot personally refuse to fight, and comforts her with the idea that no one can take him until it is his time to go. The gleaming bronze helmet frightens Astyanax and makes him cry. Hector takes it off, embraces his wife and son, and for her sake prays aloud to Zeus that his son might be chief after him and become more glorious in battle than he. Hector and Paris pass through the gate and rally the Trojans, raising havoc among the Greeks. At the advice of his brother, Helenus (who also is divinely inspired), Hector, being told by Helenus that he is not fated to die yet, manages to get both armies seated and challenges 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, nine Greek heroes step up to the challenge and draw by lot to see who is to face Hector. Ajax wins, and fights Hector to a standstill for the entire day, with neither able to obtain victory. At the end of the duel they express admiration for each other's courage and skill. Hector gives Ajax his sword (which Ajax would later use to commit suicide), while Ajax gives Hector his girdle (which is later used to attach Hector's corpse to the chariot on which Achilles drag him around the walls of troy)
The Greek and the Trojans make a truce to bury the dead. In the early dawn the next day the Greeks take advantage of it to build a wall and ditch around the ships.

Trojan counterattack

Zeus weighs the fates of the two armies in the balance and that of the Greeks sinks down. The Trojans press the Greeks into their camp over the ditch and wall and would have laid hands on the ships, but Agamemnon rallies the Greeks in person. The Trojans are driven off, night falls, and Hector resolves to take the camp and burn the ships next day. The Trojans bivouac in the field.
"A thousand camp-fires gleamed upon the plain, ...".
The next day Agamemnon rallies the Greeks and drives the Trojans
"like a herd of cows maddened with fright when a lion has attacked them ..."
Hector refrains from battle until Agamemnon leaves the field, wounded in the arm by a spear. Then Hector rallies the Trojans
" some fierce tempest that swoops down upon the sea...."
Diomedes and Odysseus hinder Hector and win the Greeks some time to retreat, but the Trojans sweep down upon the wall and rain blows upon it. The Greeks in the camp contest the gates to secure entrance for their fleeing warriors. The Trojans try to pull down the ramparts while the Greeks rain missiles upon them. Hector smashes open a gate with a large stone, clears the gate and calls on the Trojans to scale the wall, which they do, and
"... all was uproar and confusion."
The battle rages on inside the camp. Hector goes down hit by a stone thrown by Ajax, but Apollo arrives from Olympus and infuses strength into "the shepherd of the people", who orders a chariot attack, with Apollo clearing the way. Many combats, deaths, boasts, threats, epithets, figures of speech, stories, lines of poetry and books of the Iliad later, Hector lays hold of Protesilaus' ship and calls for fire. The Trojans cannot bring it to him, as Ajax kills everyone who tries.
These events are all according to the will of the gods, who have decreed the fall of Troy, and therefore intend to tempt Achilles back into the war. Patroclus, Achilles' closest companion, disguised in the armor of Achilles, enters the combat leading the Myrmidons and the rest of the Achaeans to force a Trojan withdrawal. After Patroclus has routed the Trojan army, Hector, with the aid of Apollo and Euphorbus, kills Patroclus, vaunting over him:
"I am foremost of all the Trojan warriors to stave the day of bondage from off them; as for you, vultures shall devour you here."
The dying Patroclus replies:
"... death and the day of your doom are close upon you...".

Defeat and death

Hector takes the armour off of his victim (which was Achilles' armor), and gives it to his men to take back to the city. He is going to drag Patroclus off and dishonor the body but Ajax comes up and stands over it. Glaucus accuses Hector of cowardice in not challenging Ajax. Stung, Hector calls for the armor, puts it on and uses it to rally the Trojans. Zeus regards the donning of a hero's armor as an act of insolence by a fool about to die, but makes him strong for now.
A fierce fight for the body ensues, which the Greeks win. Patroclus' death causes Achilles to renounce the wrath that kept him out of action, and he vows to avenge his fallen comrade by killing Hector. Hephaestus makes new armor for Achilles, including the Shield of Achilles, depicting 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 disguise of Hector's brother Deiphobus, deluded Hector. He requested from Achilles that his body be returned to Priam for a rightful burial, which Achilles refused. Achilles hurled his spear at Hector, who later dodged it, but Athena brought it back to Achilles' hands without Hector noticing. He later threw a spear at Achilles which hit the shield but to no avail, then, when Hector turned to face his supposed brother to retrieve another spear he saw no one there. At that moment he realized that he was doomed and that the gods were now all in Achilles' favor. But a warrior to the end, Hector decided that he would go down fighting and that men would talk about his bravery in years to come.
Hector then drew his only weapon, a sword, and charged Achilles who recognized the armor that his foe was wearing as his, and knew how to exploit its weakness, there was a chink in the armor at the throat. He plunged his spear which Athena had returned to his hand through the chink and Hector died slowly. As he died Hector begged to Achilles to not desecrate his body and accept the offerings from his parents, but Achilles, in his anger refused and described to Hector what he would do to his dead body. In his last moments of life, Hector promised Achilles that Paris and Apollo would be the ones to avenge his death. After he died, 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 then fastened the girdle to his chariot and drove his fallen enemy through the dust to the Danaan camp. For the next twelve days, Achilles mistreated the body, but it remained preserved from all injury by the messenger god Hermes. After these twelve days, the gods could no longer stand watching it and sent two messengers down to earth: Iris, another messenger god, and Achilles' mother to Achilles. Achilles' mother told Achilles to do the right thing and allow King Priam to come and take the body for ransom. Once King Priam was notified that Achilles would allow him to claim the body, he went to his safe to withdraw the ransom for Hector's body. The ransom King Priam offered included twelve fine robes, twelve white mantles, several richly embroidered tunics, ten bars of yellow gold, a special gold cup, and several cauldrons. King Priam himself soon came to claim the body, and Hermes granted him safe passage by casting a charm that would make anyone who looked at him fall asleep. Out of respect for Priam, Achilles returned Hector's body. Priam returned to Troy with the body of his son, and it was given full funeral honors. 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. Homer concludes by referring to the Trojan prince as the "tamer of horses."
Apollodorus, Bibliotheke III, xii, 5-6; Apollodorus, Epitome IV, 2.

Historical references

There is as yet no direct evidence of the existence of Homeric heroes; i.e., no inscriptions, signatures, eye-witness accounts, etc. Theories about them have to rely on a preponderance of other evidence, which alone are not solid enough to warrant much conclusiveness.
Once such piece of quasi-evidence is the names of Trojan heroes in the Linear B tablets. Twenty out of fifty-eight men's names also known from Homer, including e-ko-to (Hector), are Trojan warriors and some, including Hector, are in a servile capacity. No such conclusion that they are the offspring of Trojan captive women is warranted. Generally the public has to be content with the knowledge that these names existed in Greek in Mycenaean times, although Page hypothesizes that Hector "may very well be ... a familiar Greek form impressed on a similar-sounding foreign name."

Later treatments

  • 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.
  • Hector is listed as one of the Nine Worthies by Jacques de Longuyon for his bravery and chivalrous spirit among the pre-Christian heroes.
  • Hector is commemorated as the face of the Jack of diamonds in French playing cards.
  • The album The Triumph of Steel by American heavy metal music band Manowar contains several songs about the Trojan War and in particular the death of Hector.
  • In the 2004 Hollywood film Troy, the character Hector was played by actor Eric Bana.

See also


wikisourcepar The Iliad
hector in Arabic: هكتور
hector in Bosnian: Hektor
hector in Bulgarian: Хектор
hector in Catalan: Hèctor
hector in Czech: Hektór
hector in Danish: Hektor
hector in German: Hektor
hector in Modern Greek (1453-): Έκτορας
hector in Spanish: Héctor
hector in Esperanto: Hektoro
hector in Basque: Hektor
hector in French: Hector
hector in Galician: Héctor
hector in Korean: 헥토르
hector in Croatian: Hektor
hector in Icelandic: Hektor
hector in Italian: Ettore (mitologia)
hector in Hebrew: הקטור
hector in Latin: Hector
hector in Lithuanian: Hektoras
hector in Hungarian: Hektor (mitológiai alak)
hector in Maltese: Ettore
hector in Dutch: Hector (mythologie)
hector in Japanese: ヘクトル
hector in Norwegian: Hektor
hector in Polish: Hektor
hector in Portuguese: Heitor
hector in Romanian: Hector
hector in Russian: Гектор
hector in Simple English: Hector
hector in Slovenian: Hektor
hector in Serbian: Хектор
hector in Serbo-Croatian: Hektor
hector in Finnish: Hektor
hector in Swedish: Hektor
hector in Thai: เฮกเตอร์ (ทรอย)
hector in Vietnamese: Hector (thần thoại)
hector in Turkish: Hektor
hector in Ukrainian: Гектор
hector in Chinese: 赫克托耳

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1