What prayer did Hector make for his child?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the most critical point of "The Iliad", when Hector knows that he and the Trojans are going to lose, he offers a prayer to Zeus in honor of his child, Astyanax.  He knows that with a Troy loss, the women will be made slaves or worse, and the children will never have a chance to live a free life.  Hector's prayers, as he embraces his wife and son, are for his son to be a better and more glorious warrior and eventual king than he, Hector, could ever be.  This prayer is also offered to Zeus as a means to eliminate the pain Hector feels out of the agonizing choice he has to make.  On one hand, Hector feels absolute loyalty to his kingdom, his father's throne, and the citizens of Troy.  Due to this, he has to fight.  Yet, he is a devoted man to his family, his wife, and son.  He can't bear the thought of leaving them, and the certain and imminent death that awaits him is too horrific to even ponder.  Hector is poised between desire for his family and duty to his country, set against two equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action.  He has to choose not between "good" and "bad", but between "good" and "good", making his choices all the more painful.  There is no way out of this intestinal agony, and he offers his prayer to Zeus as a desperate way to avert the pain in both his predicament and his fate.