Iliad, Hector, and Andromache

The Farewell of Hector to Andromache and Astyanax, Carl Friedrich Deckler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Iliad, Hector, and Andromache

By Doulin Appleberry


This painting depicts Hector saying goodbye to his wife Andromache and his son Astyanax before his ultimate death. Part of the conversation between Andromache and Hector is displayed in the dialogue below.



In this excerpt from Book 6 of the Iliad, Hector is speaking with his wife Andromache for the last time before his death. Andromache begs him to stay, but he insists he must go fight. I have translated the Greek text, originally in dactylic hexameter, into English iambic pentameter blank verse.


The Text

Ἕκτορ ἀτὰρ σύ μοί ἐσσι πατὴρ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ 429

ἠδὲ κασίγνητος, σὺ δέ μοι θαλερὸς παρακοίτης: 

ἀλλ’ ἄγε νῦν ἐλέαιρε καὶ αὐτοῦ μίμν’ ἐπὶ πύργῳ,

μὴ παῖδ’ ὀρφανικὸν θήῃς χήρην τε γυναῖκα:

λαὸν δὲ στῆσον παρ’ ἐρινεόν, ἔνθα μάλιστα

ἀμβατός ἐστι πόλις καὶ ἐπίδρομον ἔπλετο τεῖχος.

τρὶς γὰρ τῇ γ’ ἐλθόντες ἐπειρήσανθ’ οἱ ἄριστοι 

ἀμφ’ Αἴαντε δύω καὶ ἀγακλυτὸν Ἰδομενῆα

ἠδ’ ἀμφ’ Ἀτρεί̈δας καὶ Τυδέος ἄλκιμον υἱόν:

ἤ πού τίς σφιν ἔνισπε θεοπροπίων ἐὺ̈ εἰδώς,

ἤ νυ καὶ αὐτῶν θυμὸς ἐποτρύνει καὶ ἀνώγει.

τὴν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε μέγας κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ: 

ἦ καὶ ἐμοὶ τάδε πάντα μέλει γύναι: ἀλλὰ μάλ’ αἰνῶς

αἰδέομαι Τρῶας καὶ Τρῳάδας ἑλκεσιπέπλους,

αἴ κε κακὸς ὣς νόσφιν ἀλυσκάζω πολέμοιο:

οὐδέ με θυμὸς ἄνωγεν, ἐπεὶ μάθον ἔμμεναι ἐσθλὸς

αἰεὶ καὶ πρώτοισι μετὰ Τρώεσσι μάχεσθαι 

ἀρνύμενος πατρός τε μέγα κλέος ἠδ’ ἐμὸν αὐτοῦ.

εὖ γὰρ ἐγὼ τόδε οἶδα κατὰ φρένα καὶ κατὰ θυμόν:

ἔσσεται ἦμαρ ὅτ’ ἄν ποτ’ ὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ

καὶ Πρίαμος καὶ λαὸς ἐϋμμελίω Πριάμοιο.

ἀλλ’ οὔ μοι Τρώων τόσσον μέλει ἄλγος ὀπίσσω, 

οὔτ’ αὐτῆς Ἑκάβης οὔτε Πριάμοιο ἄνακτος

οὔτε κασιγνήτων, οἵ κεν πολέες τε καὶ ἐσθλοὶ

ἐν κονίῃσι πέσοιεν ὑπ’ ἀνδράσι δυσμενέεσσιν,

ὅσσον σεῦ, ὅτε κέν τις Ἀχαιῶν χαλκοχιτώνων

δακρυόεσσαν ἄγηται ἐλεύθερον ἦμαρ ἀπούρας: 

καί κεν ἐν Ἄργει ἐοῦσα πρὸς ἄλλης ἱστὸν ὑφαίνοις,

καί κεν ὕδωρ φορέοις Μεσσηί̈δος ἢ Ὑπερείης

πόλλ’ ἀεκαζομένη, κρατερὴ δ’ ἐπικείσετ’ ἀνάγκη:

καί ποτέ τις εἴπῃσιν ἰδὼν κατὰ δάκρυ χέουσαν:

Ἕκτορος ἥδε γυνὴ ὃς ἀριστεύεσκε μάχεσθαι 

Τρώων ἱπποδάμων ὅτε Ἴλιον ἀμφεμάχοντο.

ὥς ποτέ τις ἐρέει: σοὶ δ’ αὖ νέον ἔσσεται ἄλγος

χήτεϊ τοιοῦδ’ ἀνδρὸς ἀμύνειν δούλιον ἦμαρ.

ἀλλά με τεθνηῶτα χυτὴ κατὰ γαῖα καλύπτοι

πρίν γέ τι σῆς τε βοῆς σοῦ θ’ ἑλκηθμοῖο πυθέσθαι. 465


The Translation

Andromache is explaining how her family members have been killed.  She then continues:

“My father and my mother, you are both; 429

My brother, and my sturdy husband too.

Please reminisce a while here on these walls.

An orphan and a widow, do not leave.

Arrange the soldiers near the fig: for there

The city’s walls are most in danger now,

For thrice the best have tried to scale the walls–

Twin Ajaxes, Idomeneus too

Stout sons of Atreus and Tydeus–

Where one who knows of oracles has told,

Or of their own volition they went there.”

And Hector with his gleaming helm said this:

“Oh wife, I have considered all of it.

But I would shame the Trojan citizens,

If I avoided battle, terribly.

My trusty heart leads me away from here

It knows to fight among the Trojan best,

For glory for my father and myself.

For this I know as truth by heart and soul:

The day will come when holy Ilios

Will be destroyed, and Priam’s people too.

Abundant Trojan sorrow matters not;

Not Hecuba’s nor Priam’s otherwise;

My brothers’ pain when killed by hostile men:

My brothers, good and strong and plentiful.

Compare this with your pain and it means naught

When bronze Achaeans steal your freedom thus,

And you in Argos weave the loom of foes,

And carry water from Hyperia,

Messeis against your will and in duress,

And someone else who sees the tears would say:

‘The wife of Hector, Trojan warrior

The best among his kind at Ilium.’

And when this happens, pain anew would rise

No man to guard against such slavery

As I would do;  Instead I’d die before

I’d hear your cries and learn your suffering.” 465


Doulin Appleberry (College ‘24) is a student at the University of Pennsylvania studying Classical Studies (Classical Languages and Literatures) and Economics.