HECTOR AND ANDROMACHE
 From where the battle still raged went
Hector, son of Priam. At the oak tree by
the gates of Troy there came running to
meet him wives and daughters of those who
fought. For eagerly did they long for tidings
of many a warrior who now lay dead on the
When he reached the beautiful, many-pillared
palace of his father, his mother came
to meet him.
His hand she took in hers, and gently
spoke she to him.
'Art thou wearied that thou hast left the
battle, Hector, my son?' she said. 'Let me
bring thee wine that thou may'st be refreshed
and yet gain strength.'
'Bring me no wine, dear mother,' said
 Hector, 'lest it take from me the strength
and courage that I have. Rather go thou
to the temple of Athene and offer her
sacrifices, beseeching that she will have
mercy on Troy and on the wives of the
Trojans and their little children. So may
she hold back Diomedes the destroyer. I
go to Paris—would that he were dead!'
And the mother of Hector straightway,
with other old women, the mothers of heroes,
offered sacrifices and prayers to Athene.
But Athene paid no heed.
To the palace of Paris, his mighty bronze
spear in his hand, then strode Hector.
Paris, the golden-haired, sat in a room
with Helen, idly handling his shining shield
and breastplate and curved bow.
In bitter scorn spoke Hector to his
'Our people die in battle for thy sake!'
he cried, 'while here thou sittest idle. Up
then, ere the enemies that thou hast made
for us burn our city to the ground!'
And Paris answered:
'Justly dost thou chide me, Hector. Even
 now hath Helen urged me to play the man
and go back to battle. Only let me put on
my armour, and soon will I overtake thee.'
Never a word did Hector answer him.
But to Hector did Helen then speak.
'Brother Hector,' she said, 'unworthy am
I to be sister of thine. Would that I had
died on the day I was born, or would that
the gods who have brought me this evil had
given me for a husband one who was shamed
by reproach and who feared dishonour.
Rest thee here, my brother, who hast
suffered so much for the sake of wretched
me and for the sin of Paris. Well I know
that for us cometh punishment of which
men will sing in the far-off years that are
yet to come.'
'Of thy love, ask me not to stay, Helen,'
answered Hector. 'For to help the men of
Troy is my whole heart set, and they are
now in want of me. But rouse this fellow,
and make him hasten after me. I go now
to see my dear wife and my babe, for
I know not whether I shall return to them
 In his own house Hector found not his
fair wife Andromache, nor their little babe.
'Whither went thy mistress?' he asked
in eagerness of the serving-women.
'Truly, my lord,' answered one, 'tidings
came to us that the Trojans were sorely
pressed and that with the Greeks was the
victory. So then did Andromache, like one
frenzied, hasten with her child and his nurse
to the walls that she might see somewhat
of what befell. There, on the tower, she
stands now, weeping and wailing.'
Back through the streets by which he had
come then hastened Hector. And as he
drew near the gates, Andromache, who had
spied him from afar, ran to meet him.
As, hand clasped in hand, Andromache
and Hector stood, Hector looked silently
at the beautiful babe in his nurse's arms, and
Astyanax, 'The City King,' those of Troy
called the child, because it was Hector his
father who saved the city.
Then said Andromache:
'Dear lord, thy courage will bring thee
 death. Hast thou no pity for this babe
nor for thy wife, who so soon shall be thy
widow? Better would it be for me to die
if to thee death should come. For if I lose
thee, then sorrow must for evermore be
mine. No father nor mother have I, and on
one day were my seven brothers slain.
Father and mother and brother art thou to
me, Hector, and my dear loved husband as
well. Have pity now, and stay with thy
wife and thy little child.'
'All these things know I well, my wife;
answered Hector, 'but black shame would
be mine were I to shrink like a coward from
battle. Ever it hath been mine to be
where the fight was fiercest, and to win
glory for my father's name, and for my own.
But soon will that glory be gone, for my
heart doth tell me that Troy must fall. Yet
for the sorrows of the Trojans, and of my
own father and mother and brethren, and
of the many heroes that must perish, grieve
I less bitterly than for the anguish that must
come upon thee on that day when thou no
longer hast a husband to fight for thee and
 a Greek leads thee away a prisoner. May
the earth be heaped up high above me ere
I hear thy crying, Andromache!'
So spake Hector, and stretched out his
arms to take his boy.
But from his father's bronze helmet with
its fiercely nodding plume of horse-hair the
babe shrank back in terror and hid his face
in his nurse's breast. Then did the little
City King's father and his sweet mother
laugh aloud, and on the ground Hector laid
his helmet, and taking his little son in his
arms he kissed him and gently dandled him.
And as he did so, thus Hector prayed to Zeus
and all the gods
'O Zeus and all ye gods, grant that my
son may be a brave warrior and a great
king in Troyland. Let men say of him
when he returns from battle, "Far greater is
he than his father," and may he gladden his
Then did Hector lay his babe in
Andromache's arms, and she held him to her bosom,
smiling through her tears.
Full of love and pity and tenderness was
 the heart of Hector, and gently he caressed
her and said
'Dear one, I pray thee be not of
over-sorrowful heart. No man shall slay me ere
the time appointed for my death hath come.
Go home and busy thyself with loom and
distaff and see to the work of thy maidens.
But war is for us men, and of all those who
dwell in Troyland, most of all for me.'
So spake Hector, and on his head again he
placed his crested helmet. And his wife went
home, many times looking back to watch him
she loved going forth to battle, with her eyes
half blinded by her tears.
Not far behind Hector followed Paris, his
armour glittering like the sun, and with a
laugh on the face that was more full of beauty
than that of any other man on earth. Like a
noble charger that has broken its bonds and
gallops exultingly across the plain, so did
Paris stride onward.
'I fear I have delayed thee,' he said to his
brother when he overtook him.
'No man can speak lightly of thy courage,'
answered Hector, 'only thou hast brought
 shame on thyself by holding back from battle.
But now let us go forward, and may the gods
give the Greeks into our hands.'
So went Hector and Paris together into
battle, and many a Greek fell before them on
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics