Hecuba was the wife of King Priam of Troy and the mother of many children, including Hector, Cassandra, Deiphobus, Polyxena, Polites, Helenus, Polydorus and most notably Paris of Troy. By Apollo she was also the mother of Troilus, whose destiny was tied to the fate of Troy.
When Paris was born, Hecuba dreamed about a fiery torch burning Troy to the ground. The dream was interpreted to mean that Paris would bring about Troy's destruction. As such Priam had the baby abandoned in the countryside, where he was raised by shepherds. Unfortunately, due to judging Aphrodite to be the most beautiful goddess of Olympus, Paris earned the undying hatred of Hera and Athena, whose vengeance would follow the prince and his reward from Aphrodite -- Paris's new bride, Helen -- back to Troy. When the couple arrived in his city, Priam gave Helen and Paris asylum. However, as Helen was the wife of the Spartan king Menelaus, he and his brother Agamemnon sailed from Greece with an army to bring her back by force if necessary. Despite repeatedly trying to find peaceful solutions to the conflict, Troy and the Greeks went to war for 10 years.
As the conflict dragged on Hecuba would see the death of her eldest, most noble son, Hector, who was brutally murdered by the Greek hero Achilles as the horrified king and queen were forced to watch from the city walls. Achilles also took her son Troilus from her, which was a harsher blow as it was prophesied that if Troilus died, the city would die with him. Paris himself was mortally wounded by one of the Greeks and died from his wounds before help arrived. Another son, Helenus, fled the city and betrayed Troy to the Greek army.
During the horrific night when Troy was finally sacked by the Greeks, Priam was slaughtered at his own altar, along with their son Polites. Hecuba's infant grandson Astyanax was flung off the city walls to his death. Her son Deiphobus was killed at the instigation of Helen, and Hecuba's daughter Cassandra was dragged from Athena's temple and raped (Cassandra would later be enslaved and murdered in Greece). Another daughter, Creusa, while escaping the city with her family was killed when a burning building collapsed on her. Another of Hecuba's children was swallowed by the earth in response to her prayers for rescue.
By the next morning, the Trojan queen and any remaining women are captured and taken as slaves. Hecuba was then forced to witness her remaining child, Polyxena, being sacrificed by the Greeks in order to change the winds and sail home.
- In Greek mythology, when Troy is finally captured, Hecuba is taken as a slave along with several other Trojan women (including her daughter Cassandra and her daughter-in-law Andromache). However, Hecuba frees herself and cursed the Greeks before throwing herself off a cliff. In other versions of the story, she goes insane with grief and begins acting like a ravenous, angry dog. This could explain her connection to the Circle of Anger.