The ten-year siege of Troy and the eventual conquest of the city plunged Hecabe of the greatest motherly happiness and pride of a queen into the deepest need, dependence and despair of a slave, and robbed her of her husband and all of her children.
Hekabe is the mother of Hector , Paris , Helenos , Troilos , Kassandra , Polydoros and 12 other children. She lost Hector and Troilus to Achilles , Paris to Philoctetes , Deiphobos to Menelaus and the remaining children in the destruction of Troy by the Greek army. She herself became a slave to Odysseus . In the Hecabe of Euripides she becomes an avenger by blinding Polymestor , the murderer of her son Polydorus. In Ovid's Metamorphoses she blinds Polymestor and then turns into a bitch. Hekabe is the embodiment of deepest women's misfortunes and misery in war.
The saying “This is Hecuba” in the sense of “It means nothing to me” goes back to a passage in Shakespeare's Hamlet . There Hamlet wonders about the ability of an actor to shed tears over the fate of Hekubas, the shoddy queen from ancient legend, while he, Hamlet, remains completely numb despite the crime that has just been committed against his father:
- His eyes wet, dismay in their faces,
- Broken voice and his whole demeanor
- According to his sense. And all of that for nothing!
- To Hecuba!
- What is Hecuba to him, what is he to her,
- That he should weep for her?
- Otto Höfer : Hekabe 1) . In: Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (Hrsg.): Detailed lexicon of Greek and Roman mythology . Volume 1,2, Leipzig 1890, Sp. 1878-1883 ( ).
- Hecabe in Gustav Schwab's legends of classical antiquity