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The Lament of Hector, Prince of Troy


In this poem I attempt to recount the narrative of Hector's story through the conflict between the Greeks and Trojans, as recorded by Homer in the epic The Iliad. Hector has long been my favourite ancient character; his desire to preserve his city, his willing resolve to face certain death at the hand of Achilles, and the honourable contrast between himself and Achilles, has made for some of the best character development in all of ancient history.

 

In this poem, I strive to emulate the style of Tennyson yet maintain my own nuance and interpretation. Many purists of the myth will take issue with some of my decisions of interpretation, but this is how we 'do' mythology. We adapt and organize the myths to suit our time.

 

I hope that you enjoy this poem. I value your feedback and thoughts. You can hear me read it on my YouTube channel by clicking here.

 

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The Lament of Hector, Prince of Troy

'Neath Ilium's rocky crags

'Pon whose shoulders the weight of glory sags

Stood Hector, tamer of horses

Who fought for brother 'gainst all Greek's forces.

 

Proud prince of Troy the embassy of kings     

Sat with cunning Agamemnon and drank        

A toast of peace between the nations;             

While Paris, by her chamber, a song sings       

Of love and lust from which she never shrank, 

But rose to meet with tender heart of love's libations.    

 

A treaty sealed for peace, prosperity,               

Betwixt fair Ilium and mighty Greece.              

They set their prow, triumph in their sail;         

And waves splashed with Poseidon's charity  

Whose gratitude o'er his noble feast                 

Bid their fleet swift retreat, unawares their mission failed. 

 

For, 'neath the deck, deep in the cargo hold,    

Hid amongst the gifts of kingly friendship       

Lay Helen, love's conquest: Treachery!             

Her absence soon discovered, Rage, Behold!  

Murd'rous Menelaus sought the cuckold's whip 

Against the petty pretty-boy for his lechery.     

 

Oh, Helen, what a beauty 'ere was she,     

Of Sparta once, now driven into Troy        

'Fore whose regal king she bent her knee  

And, in betrayal, promised loyalty              

To him; all for Priam's second boy:            

'Prepare for war! Greece has launched a thousand ships for thee.'   

 

Dreadlord Achilles and his Myrmidons,   

Convinced for war by immortality,            

Led the charge to claim the beach for Greece    

And drive the Trojans back inside their walls    

While Hector prepared for war unwillingly.     

Old Priam, now, was set for war - Who had sought for peace.    

 

Against advice, the king pressed to attack                    

To drive the Greeks into their boats, to flee;                         

Hector, general o'er Troy's mighty men,                                 

Led a night assault, pushed the Greeks aback;                    

But his efforts could not bring vict'ry                                     

And Agamemnon remained resolute to the end.                 

 

The Greeks advanced to fight, and were repelled,              

Now, see, the Trojans fight the same mistake.                    

For ten long years the battles raged                                      

Yet neither gods nor kings could propel                                

Advantage to either side for glory's sake.                          

Instead the land was rich in blood while the war was waged.

 

Because of young Briseis, captured by                     

Achilles, yet taken by Agamemnon                            

In a fit of prideful jealousy,                                           

Achilles recused his men from the fight                   

And the war he could, he would, have won               

Until his pettiness brought the king upon his knees.    

 

Still, though his arrogance not yet assuaged,                               

His men were angered by the Greeks' being slain,                       

'til Patroclus, inside his armour,                                                       

Led the Myrmidons into the fray, enraged                                      

With bloody anger against the Trojan's gains                                 

And brought, once again, courage to the Greek demeanour.       

 

Face to face, against his foe, fought Hector                                  

And the man in the armour of Achilles;                                           

With strength and skill they traded vicious blows                         

And fought with a fierce abandoned fervour                                  

Until a single lapse saw Hector kill                                                   

The beloved of Achilles, and doomed fair Troy to woe.                

 

Burning with grieving fury, Achilles                                   

Challenged the courageous Hector of Troy.                    

Oh, weep, now, for sweet Andromache                             

As she begs her husband in vain, and pleads                  

That he refuse to fight, for her and their boy.                   

Oh, hear, now, her pained lament, for he refused to flee.  

 

Holding his spear and sword of hardened bronze      

He made his way beyond the mighty gates                 

And faced his nemesis, Thetis' son.                              

'Fight with honour, not as Agamemnon's                      

Scion, and give my body the rites                                   

As befits the greatest warrior of all, bar one.'               

 

But Achilles gave no hope of honour

And taunted Hector as he stabbed his spear;

The fight was fierce, but, alas, was swift.

He swung his sword and pierced strong Hector's breast

Killing him with a wrathful vengeance

And thus the death of Patroclus, his love, was avenged.

 

From his head fell a single rivulet

Of crimson blood that revealed his lot -

Killed by the dreaded demigod

In a fight that was not his need to fight

Yet by his death the deathblow of Troy was shot

So that his brother could keep his lover, by the gods.

 

Lo, the slain heir of Troy was seen by all                        

'til, tied to the chariot of his foe,                                       

He was driven by fierce Achilles                                       

O'er the rough and rocky land of battle                            

As prize of conquest, a tale of woe,                                 

His mangled body stolen to the camp of Greece.          

 

Unrelenting in his anger, unjust                                                        

Achilles aimed to punish the dead prince                                      

Refusing him his burial rites.                                                            

But noble Priam appealed that war must                                       

Not allow our baser nature to outwin                                              

Lest we inflame the gods and cause their capricious slights.    

 

Priam returned with the bloody body                                                

And had peace to observe the days of grief                                   

Just as the conqueror had promised.                                              

Yet, now the war was cruel parody,                                                   

For with defeat Troy was soon to meet                                           

As, burning on the pyre, hope was now a vapid mist.                            

 

The city mourned their illustrious son                                                               

As the enemy appeared, feigned, to leave.                                                       

But in a twist of Odysseus                                                                                   

They welcomed in the wooden horse of blood                                                 

And that night, as Hector entered Hades,                                                         

Troy fell, was burned, and razed, and raped, by the men of Greece.             

 

The war was won by these illicit means                                                    

And all heroic men of Troy were killed                                                       

As, by Aeneas, fell great Achilles;                                                               

Agamemnon had his war, Oh! But screams                                              

Of violence followed him as his wife fulfilled                                            

Her ambition to repay him for his filicide.                                                  

 

And so, lay dead and gone, the defender                                                    

Of Troy, most valiant of all,

Hector, forced to wage a war he never sought

And died for a cuckolding offender

Yet, died with honour beneath the walls,

A hero, a prince, a son; with courage he, alone, had fought.

 

'Neath Ilium's rocky crags

'Pon whose shoulders the weight of glory sags

Lies Hector, tamer of horses,

Who, with honour, fought dishonours courses.

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