Priam was the king of Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 during the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

 and youngest son of Laomedon
In Greek mythology, Laomedon was a Trojan king, son of Ilus, brother of Ganymede and Assaracus, and father of Priam, Astyoche, Lampus, Hicetaon, Clytius, Cilla, Proclia, Aethilla, Medesicaste, Clytodora, and Hesione...

. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".

Marriage and issue

See List of children of Priam

Priam had a number of wives; his first was Arisbe
Arisbe (daughter of Merops)
In Greek mythology, Arisbe was a daughter of Merops of Percote, a seer. In a non-Homeric story, she married Priam, later king of Troy, and bore him a son named Aesacus. Priam subsequently divorced her in favor of Hecuba, daughter of King Dymas of Phrygia...

, who had given birth to his son Aesacus
Aesacus or Aisakos , in Greek mythology, was a son of King Priam of Troy. Aesacus sorrowed for the death of his wife or would-be lover, a daughter of the river Cebren, and was transformed into a bird....

, who met his death before the Trojan War. Priam later divorced her in favor of Hecuba
Hecuba was a queen in Greek mythology, the wife of King Priam of Troy during the Trojan War, with whom she had 19 children. These children included several major characters of Homer's Iliad such as the warriors Hector and Paris, and the prophetess Cassandra...

 (or Hecebe), daughter of the Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

n king Dymas
In Greek mythology, Dymas is the name attributed to at least four individuals.- Dymas :The first Dymas was a Phrygian king and father of Hecuba , wife to King Priam of Troy...

. By his various wives and concubines Priam was the father of fifty sons and many daughters. Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

 was Priam's eldest son by Hecuba, and heir to the Trojan throne. Paris
Paris (mythology)
Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

 (also known as Alexander), another son, was the cause of the Trojan War. Other children of Priam and Hecuba include the prophetic Helenus
Helenus was a Trojan soldier and prophet in the Trojan War.In Greek mythology, Helenus was the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and the twin brother of the prophetess Cassandra. He was also called Scamandrios. According to legend, Cassandra, having been given the power of prophecy by...

 and Cassandra
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy...

; eldest daughter Ilione
In Greek mythology, Ilione was the oldest daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her husband was the Thracian king Polymestor. She is briefly mentioned in Virgil's Aeneid: Aeneas gives her scepter to Dido....

; Deiphobus
In Greek mythology, Deiphobus was a son of Priam and Hecuba. He was a prince of Troy, and the greatest of Priam's sons after Hector and Paris...

; Troilus
Troilus is a legendary character associated with the story of the Trojan War...

; Polites
In Greek mythology, Polites referred to two different people, both of whom feature as minor characters in the epics by Homer.*Polites was a member of Odysseus's crew...

; Creusa
In Greek mythology, four people had the name Creusa ; the name simply means "princess".-Naiad:According to Pindar's 9th Pythian Ode, Creusa was a naiad and daughter of Gaia who bore Hypseus, King of the Lapiths to the river god Peneus. Hypseus had one daughter, Cyrene. When a lion attacked her...

, wife of Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

; Laodice
Laodice (mythology)
Laodice was the daughter of Priam of Troy and Hecuba. She is described as the most beautiful of Priam's daughters. Laodice refers to Helen as her junior even though Helen is probably 34 years old and yet she is more beautiful than her sister Cassandra, who might be eighteen at the same time and who...

, wife of Helicaon
In Greek mythology Helicaon is the son of Antenor and Theano. His wife Laodice fell in love with Acamas....

; Polyxena
In Greek mythology, Polyxena was the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy and his queen, Hecuba. She is considered the Trojan version of Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Polyxena is not in Homer's Iliad, appearing in works by later poets, perhaps to add romance to Homer's...

, who was slaughtered on the grave of Achilles; and Polydorus
In Greek mythology, Polydorus referred to several different people.*An Argive, son of Hippomedon...

, his youngest son.


Priam was originally called Podarces
In Greek mythology, Podarces was a son of Iphicles and brother of Protesilaus. In Homer's Iliad, Podarces and Protesilaus were former suitors of Helen, and therefore bound to defend the marriage rights of Menelaus, her husband, when Helen was kidnapped by Paris...

 and he kept himself from being killed by Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 by giving him a golden veil embroidered by his sister, Hesione
In Greek mythology and later art, the name Hesione refers to various mythological figures, of which the Trojan princess Hesione is known most.-Princess Hesione of Troy:...

. After this, Podarces changed his name to Priam. This is an etymology based on priatos "ransomed"; the actual etymology of the name is probably not Greek, but perhaps Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

n in origin.
When Hector is killed by Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

, the Greek warrior treats the body with disrespect and refuses to give it back. Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 sends the god Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

 to escort King Priam, Hector’s father and the ruler of Troy, into the Greek camp. Priam tearfully pleads with Achilles to take pity on a father bereft of his son and return Hector’s body. He invokes the memory of Achilles’ own father, Peleus
In Greek mythology, Pēleus was a hero whose myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century BCE. Peleus was the son of Aeacus, king of the island of Aegina, and Endeïs, the oread of Mount Pelion in Thessaly; he was the father of Achilles...

. Priam begs Achilles to pity him, saying "I have endured what no one on earth has ever done before — I put my lips to the hands of the man who killed my son." Deeply moved, Achilles relents and returns Hector’s corpse to the Trojans. Both sides agree to a temporary truce, and Achilles gives Priam leave to hold a proper funeral for Hector complete with funeral games. He promises that no Greek will engage in combat for 11 days, but on the 12th day of peace, the mighty war between the Greeks and the Trojans would resume.

Priam is killed during the Sack of Troy by Achilles' son Neoptolemus
Neoptolemus was the son of the warrior Achilles and the princess Deidamia in Greek mythology. Achilles' mother foretold many years before Achilles' birth that there would be a great war. She saw that her only son was to die if he fought in the war...

 (also known as Pyrrhus). His death is graphically related in Book II of Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

. In Virgil's description, Neoptolemus first kills Priam's son Polites
In Greek mythology, Polites referred to two different people, both of whom feature as minor characters in the epics by Homer.*Polites was a member of Odysseus's crew...

 in front of his father as he seeks sanctuary on the altar of Zeus. Priam rebukes Neoptolemus, throwing a spear at him, harmlessly hitting his shield. Neoptolemus then drags Priam to the altar and there kills him too.

It has been suggested by Hittite
History of the Hittites
Hittites were an ancient people who spoke an Indo-European language and established a kingdom centered in Hattusa in northern Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite Kingdom was at its height, encompassing central Anatolia, south-western Syria as far as Ugarit, and...

 sources, specifically the Manapa-Tarhunta letter
Manapa-Tarhunta letter
The Manapa-Tarhunta letter is a Hittite letter discovered in the 1980s. It was written by a client king called Manapa-Tarhunta to an unnamed Hittite king around 1295 BCE....

, that there is historical basis for the archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

 of King Priam. The letter describes one Piyama-Radu
Piyamaradu was a warlike aristocratic personage whose name figures prominently in the Hittite archives of the middle and late 13th century BC in western Anatolia. His history is of particular interest because it appears to intertwine with that of the Trojan War...

 as a troublesome rebel who overthrew a Hittite
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 client king and thereafter established his own rule over the city of Troy (mentioned as Wilusa
Wilusa was a city of the late Bronze Age Assuwa confederation of western Anatolia.It is known from six references in 13th century BC Hittite sources, including...

 in Hittite). There is also mention of an Alaksandu
Alaksandu was a king of Wilusa who sealed a treaty with Muwatalli II ca. 1280 BC. This treaty implies that Alaksandu had previously secured a treaty with Muwatalli's father, Mursili II, as well....

, suggested to be Paris Alexander (King Priam's son from the Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

), a later ruler of the city of Wilusa who established peace between Wilusa and Hatti (see the Alaksandu treaty).

In popular culture

Priam features in the player's speech in Shakespeare's Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

(Act 2, Scene 2) where his death at the hands of Neoptolemus is described.

In Dark Mirror
Dark Mirror (Star Trek novel)
Dark Mirror is a Star Trek novel written by Diane Duane. It is set in the Mirror Universe, and offers an explanation of its more violent culture.-Plot:...

, a Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

novel taking place in the Mirror Universe, Priam meets a much darker fate: As he is begging for the release of Hector's body for the burial rites, Achilles kills him in cold blood.

In the historical fantasy novel Troy: Fall of Kings
Troy: Fall of Kings
Troy: Fall of Kings is a historical fantasy novel by British fantasy writer David Gemmell, forming the final part of the Troy Series.It was finished by his wife, Stella Gemmell, following his death on July 28, 2006 and released under the joint authorship of David and Stella Gemmell.-Plot summary:As...

by David Gemmell
David Gemmell
David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell's works display violence, yet also explore...

, Priam leaps to his death from the Great Tower in Troy.

Priam is played by Carlo Tamberlani
Carlo Tamberlani
Carlo Tamberlani was an Italian film actor. He appeared in 127 films between 1931 and 1976.He was born in Salice Salentino, Italy and died in Subiaco, Italy.-Selected filmography:* La Damigella di Bard...

 in the 1961 film The Trojan Horse
Guerra di Troia
Guerra di Troia is a 1961 historical drama film set in the tenth and final year of the Trojan War. The film focuses primarily on the exploits of the Trojan hero Aeneas during this time...


Priam was played by Fosco Giachetti
Fosco Giachetti
Fosco Giachetti was an Italian actor.He was the brother of the actor Gianfranco Giachetti.Fosco Giachetti was the protagonist of Lo squadrone bianco , directed by Augusto Genina...

 in the 1962 film The Fury of Achilles
The Fury of Achilles
The Fury of Achilles is a 1962 historical drama set in the ninth year of the Trojan War, and is based primarily on Homer's Iliad...


In the 2004 film Troy
Troy (film)
Troy is a 2004 epic war film written by David Benioff and directed by Wolfgang Petersen based on the events of the Trojan War. Its cast includes Brad Pitt as Achilles, Eric Bana as Hector.It was nominated for the Academy Award for Costume Design.-Plot:...

, King Priam is portrayed by Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is an Irish actor of stage and screen. O'Toole achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and then went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most...

. In the film, he is killed by Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

 during the Sack of Troy.

David Malouf
David Malouf
David George Joseph Malouf is an acclaimed Australian writer. He was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2000, his 1993 novel Remembering Babylon won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1996, he won the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award in 2008, and he was...

's 2009 novel Ransom
Ransom (Malouf novel)
Ransom is a novel by Australian author David Malouf. It retells the story of the Iliad from books 16 to 24.It is studied in Australian high schools as an English text.-Summary and Analysis:...

is a retelling of Priam's reclamation of Hector's body from Achilles.
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