Hecuba in Greek myth, the (chief) wife of Priam, king of Troy, and mother of nineteen of his children including Hector, Helenus, Troilus, Paris, Cassandra, Creusa, and Polyxena. In the Iliad she remains in the background fulfilling the role of the bereaved queen destined to survive the sack of Troy and the loss of her husband and nearly all her children. In Greek tragedy this latter part of her life becomes a favourite subject, being rich in dramatic possibilities. In The Trojan Women of Euripides, she is allotted as spoils of war to Odysseus, and has to endure the sacrifice of her daughter Polyxena to Achilles' tomb and the murder of Hector's only son Astyanax. In the Hecuba, also by Euripides, she discovers the murder of her last remaining son Polydorus, and the prophecy is made that she will be metamorphosed into a bitch. Later legend elaborated upon this topic. It is said that Hecuba, a dog with fiiery eyes, jumps into the Aegean sea and disappears.
Euripides continues the drama of the Trojan Women in a later play.
Hecuba, Greek tragedy by Euripides written perhaps in 424 BC.
Troy has fallen to the Greeks. The women of Troy have been apportioned to the victors, but the return home of the Greek fleet is delayed by contrary winds. The ghost of the Greek hero Achilles has demanded the sacrifice to him of Polyxena, daughter of Hecuba and Priam, king of Troy. The Greek hero Odysseus comes to lead her away. He is unmoved by Hecuba's despair and by her reminder that he once owed his life to her. But Polyxena, a striking figure, prefers death to slavery, and willingly goes to her sacrifice. As Hecuba prepares for the burial, she suffers a further sorrow. Her youngest son Polydorus had been sent for safety to Polymestor, king of the Thracian Chersonese (where the Greek fleet is now detained), with part of the treasure of Priam. When Troy fell, Polymestor had murdered the boy in order to secure the treasure for himself, and had thrown his body into the sea. It has now been washed up and is brought to Hecuba. She appeals to the Greek leader Agamemnon for vengeance; but he, though sympathetic, is timid. Hecuba thereupon takes vengeance into her own hands. She lures Polymestor and his sons to her tent, where her women put out his eyes and kill the sons. Agamemnon orders the blinded king to be left on a deserted island; he then prophesies that Hecuba will turn into a bitch, and that the site of her tomb will be commemorated by the name Cynossema, ('dog's tomb') on the cast coast of the Thracian Chersonese).