Hekabe and Polydoros (page 660)

Chapter 16, The Trojan War

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Homer, Iliad 20.407-18

But Achilles with his spear went on after godlike Polydorus, son of Priam. Him would his father nowise suffer to fight, for that among his children he was the youngest born [410] and was dearest in his eyes; and in swiftness of foot he surpassed all. And lo, now in his folly, making show of his fleetness of foot, he was rushing through the foremost fighters, until he lost his life. Him swift-footed goodly Achilles smote full upon the back with a cast of his spear, as he darted past, even where the golden clasps of the belt [415] were fastened, and the corselet overlapped; through this straight on its way beside the navel passed the spear-point, and he fell to his knees with a groan and a cloud of darkness enfolded him, and as he sank he clasped his bowels to him with his hands.”  Greek Text

Homer, Iliad 21.85-92

and to a brief span of life did my mother bear me, even Laothoe, daughter of the old man Altes,—Altes that is lord over the war-loving Leleges, holding steep Pedasus on the Satnioeis. His daughter Priam had to wife, and therewithal many another, and of her we twain were born, and thou wilt butcher us both. [90] Him thou didst lay low amid the foremost foot-men, even godlike Polydorus, when thou hadst smitten him with a cast of thy sharp spear, and now even here shall evil come upon me.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 3-12

I Polydorus, a son of Hecuba, the daughter of Cisseus, and of Priam. Now my father, when Phrygia‘s capital [5] was threatened with destruction by the spear of Hellas, took alarm and conveyed me secretly from the land of Troy to Polymestor’s house, his guest-friend in Thrace, who sows these fruitful plains of Chersonese, curbing by his might a nation delighting in horses. [10] And with me my father sent much gold by stealth, so that, if ever Ilium‘s walls should fall, his children that survived might not want for means to live.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 21-27

But when Troy fell and Hector lost his life and my father’s hearth was rooted up, and he himself fell butchered at the god-built altar by the hands of Achilles’ murderous son; [25] then my father’s friend killed me, his helpless guest, for the sake of the gold, and then cast me into the swell of the sea, to keep the gold for himself in his house.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 752-57

Agamemnon, by your knees, by your beard and conquering hand I implore you—

Agamemnon
What is your desire? to be [755] set free? that is easily done.

Hecuba
Not that; give me vengeance on the wicked, and I am willing to lead a life of slavery forever.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 1035-46

Polymestor
within the tent
[1035] O horror! I am blinded of the light of my eyes, ah me!

Chorus Leader
Did you hear, friends, that Thracian’s cry of woe?

Polymestor
within
O horror! horror! my children! 0 the cruel blow.

Chorus Leader
My friends, new ills are brought to pass inside.

Polymestor
within
No, you shall never escape for all your hurried flight; [1040] for with a blow I will burst open the inmost recesses of this hall.

Chorus Leader
Hark! how he launches a bolt with weighty hand! Shall we force an entry? The crisis calls on us to aid Hecuba and the Trojan women.

Hecuba enters, calling back into the tent.

Hecuba
Strike on, spare not, burst the doors! [1045] you shall never replace bright vision in your eyes or see your children, whom I have slain, alive again.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 1258-73

Hecuba
Yes, for I am avenged on you; have I not cause for delight?

Polymestor
It will soon cease, when ocean’s flood—

Hecuba
[1260] Shall convey me to the shores of Hellas?

Polymestor
No, but will close over you when you fall from the masthead.

Hecuba
Who will force me to take the leap?

Polymestor
Of your own accord you will climb the ship’s mast.

Hecuba
With wings upon my back, or by what means?

Polymestor
[1265] You will become a dog with bloodshot gaze.

Hecuba
How did you know of my transformation?

Polymestor
Dionysus, our Thracian prophet, told me so.

Hecuba
And did he prophesy to you nothing of your present trouble?

Polymestor
No, for you would never have caught me thus by guile.

Hecuba
[1270] Dead or alive shall I complete my life here?

Polymestor
Dead; and to your tomb shall be given a name—

Hecuba
Recalling my form, or what will you tell me?

Polymestor
“The hapless hound’s grave,” a mark for mariners.  Greek Text

fr 965 PMGPoetae Melici Graeci, p. 516 ed. D. L. Page. Oxford 1962.

Pacuvius, Iliona frr I-XVIII – Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, pp. 114-18, ed. O. Ribbeck. Scaenicae Romanorum Poesis fragmenta 1. Leipzig 1987.

Latin Text

Ex incertis fr XLII Rib – Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, p. 152, ed. O. Ribbeck. Scaenicae Romanorum Poesis fragmenta 1. Leipzig 1987.

Latin Text

Hyginus, Fabulae 109

ILIONA: When Polydorus, son of Priam by Hecuba, was born, they gave him to Priam’s daughter Iliona to be reared. She was the wife of Polymnestor, King of the Thracians, and she brought him up as her own son. She brought up Deipylus, who she had conceived by Polymnestor, as if he were her brother, so that if anything happened to either of them she could give the other to her parents. But when, after the fall of Troy, the Achaeans wanted to destroy the race of Priam, they cast down Astyanax from the walls, and sent messengers to Polymnestor promising him Electra in marriage together with a great amount of gold if he would put Polydorus, son of Priam, to death. Polymnestor did not oppose the words of the ambassadors, and slew his own son Deipylus unwittingly, thinking he had killed Polydorus, son of Priam. Polydorus, however, went to the oracle of Apollo to inquire about his parents and was told that his city was burned, his father killed, and his mother held in servitude. When he returned and saw that things were not as the oracle had said . . . thinking he was the son of Polymnestor, he asked his sister Iliona why the oracle had spoken falsely. His sister revealed the truth to him, and by her advice he blinded Polymnestor and killed him.  Latin Text

Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, February 2023

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