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The Iliad

The Iliad


by Homer

Hektor Timeline and Summary

  • As the Trojans march out for battle in Book 3, Hektor taunts Paris for being full of himself as a lover, but not having what it takes on the battlefield.
  • He then supports Paris's decision to fight Menelaos in a one-on-one duel.
  • When that falls through, after Aphrodite whisks Paris out of the fighting and Athene gets Pandaros to take a potshot at Menelaos, Hektor commands the Trojans in battle.
  • When the gods get involved in the battle, Ares stands by Hektor and helps him kill lots of Achaians. That is, until Diomedes, with Athene's help, attacks Ares, wounds him, and sends him crying back to Mount Olympos.
  • The tide of battle is turning against the Trojans when Helenos tells Hektor to rally the troops in front of Troy's gates. Then he tells Hektor to go back to Troy and tell the women to offer their finest robe to the statue of Athene on the acropolis. They should ask her to save their city.
  • Hektor, following Helenos's instructions, rallies the Trojans and heads back to the city.
  • Inside, Hektor finds his mother Hekabe. She tries to convince him to chill out and have a glass of wine. She also tells him to pray to Zeus.
  • He says, "Sorry, no time. And anyway, how could I pray to Zeus if I'm all dirty?" Then he tells her Helenos's message. She obeys these instructions.
  • Then Hektor goes to Paris's house. He disses him for not fighting. Paris accepts Hektor's criticism and says he was just getting ready to go back to the fight.
  • Helen tells Hektor how she wishes she had had a better husband – like him. She also tells Hektor to hang out with her.
  • Hektor says, "Sorry, no time. I've got to go see my wife and kid."
  • Hektor heads home but his wife and son aren't there. A servant tells him that they've gone out to the Skaian Gates. Hektor goes there and finds them.
  • Andromache, Hektor's wife, asks him why he has to keep fighting. She predicts that he will be killed in battle, leaving her all alone in the world. She also suggests that the Trojans should pull back to fight from a defensive position in front of the weakest point in the Trojan walls.
  • Hektor acknowledges his wife's concerns, but then says he has to follow the warrior code. He foresees the day when Troy will be conquered and Andromache will be forced into slavery. He says he would rather die before that day.
  • Now Hektor goes to embrace his son, but the boy is terrified of his helmet. This makes his parents laugh. Hektor removes his helmet, picks up his son, and prays to Zeus to make him a better warrior than his father.
  • Before leaving, Hektor tries to reassure Andromache, saying that, if he is killed, that means it was fated, and no one can escape the fates. He tells her to go back to her weaving work in the home.
  • Then Hektor goes and meets up with Paris. Together, they head back to the battle.
  • With their encouragement, the Trojans start doing so well that Athene wants to put a stop to it. She sends a telepathic message to Helenos, who convinces Hektor to challenge the Achaians to another one-on-one duel.
  • Eventually, Aias accepts the challenge. In the fight, Hektor gets wounded in the neck by Aias's spear, and then knocked over by a huge rock.
  • Luckily for Hektor, the god Apollo swoops in and picks him up.
  • Before Aias and Hektor can start going at it with swords, a Trojan and Achaian herald both run in to stop the fight. They say that Zeus loves them both and doesn't want to see them get hurt.
  • Aias says he's willing to stop the fight if Hektor is. Hektor says, "Fine by me."
  • Hektor then suggests that they exchange gifts, as a token of mutual respect. Aias agrees. Hektor gives his opponent his sword; in return, Aias gives his belt.
  • The next day, the Trojans and Achaians have a truce to gather and bury their dead. The day after that, the Achaians build a wall around their camp and ships.
  • The next day, fighting resumes. Hektor kicks some major butt, eventually sending the Achaians running back to their camp in fright. Diomedes tries to fight back at Hektor, but each time he does, Zeus throws a thunderbolt at his chariot. Diomedes gets the message.
  • A furious battle erupts at the Achaians' wall, which is only cut short by nightfall.
  • That night, Hektor orders the Trojans to camp on the plain.
  • The next day, in the battle, Hektor gets a message from Zeus to fight defensively until he sees Agamemnon get wounded. When he sees Agamemnon get stabbed in the forearm by Koon, Hektor leads his soldiers on the attack.
  • He briefly blacks out after Diomedes grazes his helmet with a spear – but he's OK.
  • A Trojan warrior, Poulydamas, suggests they dismount and make a massive attack on foot. Hektor agrees.
  • After much of your typical back-and-forth of battle, the Trojans finally drive the Achaians back within their wall.
  • Just when it looks like the Trojans are about to breach the wall, an eagle flies overhead, on the left (this was viewed as unlucky), and carrying a snake. The snake is still alive, and keeps biting the eagle until it finally lets it go.
  • Poulydamas urges Hektor to treat this as a bad omen and not attack the Achaian ships.
  • Hektor sharply rebukes him and calls him a coward.
  • Led by Hektor, the Trojans press on and start trying to tear down the wall.
  • After a lot of furious fighting, Hektor lightens their load by throwing a huge rock at the gates of the wall, shattering them. Then Hektor runs in alone, looking freaking scary.
  • The fighting goes back and forth for a while, but the Achaians start to turn things around (partly because the god Poseidon is helping them).
  • Poulydamas urges Hektor to concentrate their forces at a certain safe location, so that they can decide their next move. Hektor agrees.
  • The only problem is, when he goes to gather his chieftains, he discovers that most of them are either dead or wounded.
  • He does find Paris, and immediately starts insulting him, calling him a coward. Then they run into the thick of the fight.
  • Hektor gets in a fight with Aias, who throws a huge rock at him and hits him in the chest. Some guys grab Hektor and pull him out of harm's way, back to the River Xanthos. He blacks out.
  • Eventually, Zeus sends the god Apollo down to revive Hektor. Then he counterattacks against the Achaians.
  • Hektor tries to get the Trojans to burn the Achaians' ships.
  • When things start looking really bad, Patroklos convinces Achilleus to let him wear his armor. Patroklos, leading the Myrmidons, drives the Trojans back toward the city. He is helped by the fact that Zeus puts fear into the heart of Hektor.
  • After some crazy fighting, during which Hektor comes face-to-face with Patroklos without being able to kill him (but Patroklos kills Hektor's charioteer with a rock), the god Apollo steps in.
  • He strikes Patroklos between the shoulders, knocks the helmet off his head, shatters his spear, detaches his shield, and pries off his breastplate.
  • Then, after Patroklos gets speared in the back by the Trojan Euphorbos, Hektor stabs him in the guts, giving him a mortal wound. Patroklos insults him and says Hektor will die soon. Hektor shrugs it off.
  • Then Achilleus gets the message and puts in an appearance outside the Achaian camp – thereby putting fear into the hearts of the Trojans and putting them to flight.
  • That night, in the Trojan council, Poulydamas worries about Achilleus's return to the battle. He argues that they should pull back within the city's walls.
  • Hektor says, "No way, not after all we've accomplished. And anyway, what if it was Achilleus? I'll never run from him."
  • Hektor says they should stay on the plain, and the other Trojans agree.
  • The next day, Achilleus rejoins the fight and inflicts heavy losses on the Trojans. Initially, Apollo tells Hektor not to go head-to-head with Achilleus. He obeys until Achilleus kills his brother, Polydoros; then he loses it.
  • Hektor rushes in to attack Achilleus, but Athene deflects his spears. Then Achilleus would have killed him, but Apollo carries him away.
  • Eventually, Achilleus drives all the Trojans back into Troy, and Hektor is left alone outside the walls, preparing to face him.
  • Hektor's parents, on the rampart, try to convince him not to take on Achilleus alone, but Hektor is too proud to listen. He is frustrated that he disregarded Poulydamas's advice from the night before.
  • And yet, just when Achilleus comes close, Hektor's nerve fails him. He turns tail and runs. Achilleus chases him three times around the walls of Troy.
  • The fourth time around, Zeus weighs Hektor's fate and sees it's time for him to die.
  • He sends Athene down; she takes the form of Hektor's brother, Deïphobos, and convinces him to stand his ground, saying they will fight together.
  • Facing Achilleus, Hektor suggests they make a pact: whoever wins can take his opponent's armor, but has to give the body back to his comrades to be buried. Achilleus refuses.
  • Then Achilleus throws his spear – but Hektor ducks it. Athene grabs Achilleus's spear and gives it back to him without Hektor noticing.
  • Now Hektor throws his spear, but it deflects off Achilleus's shield. He calls on Deïphobos to give him another spear – but Deïphobos isn't there. He realizes that he's been tricked, and is now doomed. He resolves to go down fighting.
  • Hektor charges at Achilleus with his sword, but Achilleus stabs him in the neck with his spear – narrowly missing his windpipe. This means that, even though he is mortally wounded, Hektor is still able to speak.
  • The dying Hektor asks Achilleus once again to spare his body from the dogs. Achilleus refuses.
  • Hektor says that he recognizes Achilleus won't be won over. But then he predicts that, some day soon, Apollo and Paris will kill him outside the Skaian Gates. Then Hektor dies.