In Greek mythology, Deiphobus (Ancient Greek: Δηίφοβος) was a son of King Priam of Troy, and his second wife Hecabe, making Deiphobus brother to the likes of Hector, Paris, Helenus and Cassandra.
Prior to the Trojan War, Deiphobus only appears in one tale from Greek mythology, for when Paris, who had been abandoned as a baby, returned to Troy to take part in the city’s games, he bested all who faced him.
The affront of this unknown shepherd to beat him, was such that Deiphobus threatened to kill him, before it was revealed that Paris was actually his own brother.
It is though in connection with the Trojan War that Deiphobus is most famous, and whilst some tell of Deiphobus travelling to Sparta with Paris when Helen was abducted from Menelaus’ palace, it is during the war that the name of Deiphobus comes to the fore.
Deiphobus is normally ranked as the second greatest warrior amongst the sons of King Priam, behind Hector and above Paris, and was named as one of the commanders of the Trojan forces during the defence of Troy.
Deiphobus would often be found fighting alongside his brother Helenus, and another Trojan defender, Asius; and the three were prominent when the Achaean defensive wall was attacked by the Trojans. Deiphobus would kill named Achaean defenders Hypsenor and Ascalaphus, and was himself wounded by the Achaean hero, Meriones.
In the Iliad (books XII, XIV, XXII), Deiphobus is most famous for having his identity stolen by the goddess Athena; for the Greek goddess took the form of Deiphobus to convince Hector that he was not alone when Achilles came upon him.
Instead of fleeing, Hector turned to fight, convinced that his brother Deiphobus was stood by the side of him, but when he next turned, Deiphobus was not there, and never had been, and so Hector would die at the hands of Achilles.
Deiphobus would assume the position of primary defender of Troy.
The most common versions of events at Troy would see Achilles killed by an arrow shot by Deiphobus’ brother Paris, but some tell of a more treacherous end to the life of Achilles.
Achilles was convinced that King Priam was looking to end the war, and was offering to Achilles the hand in marriage of his own daughter Polyxena. Achilles was thus convinced to meet with Polyxena in the Temple of Apollo, there he was greeted by Deiphobus, but as Deiphobus hugged Achilles in greeting, Paris came up behind the Achaean hero, and stabbed him in the back.
Shortly after the death of Achilles, Paris would himself die due to the poisoned arrow of Philoctetes. This meant that not only had Deiphobus lost another brother, but also that Helen was now without a “husband” inside Troy; a vacancy that Deiphobus would fill.
Various stories are told about the marriage of Deiphobus and Helen, although it is commonly said that Deiphobus carried Helen off, and certainly after the end of the war, Helen was quick to tell of how she had not wanted to marry Deiphobus.
The marriage of Deiphobus and Helen had repercussions within Troy, for it caused angst amongst the Trojan council, who had proposed returning Helen to Menelaus at this point to bring about an end to the war, and it also caused Helenus to leave Troy, for Helenus himself had wished to wed Helen.
The end of Deiphobus was near to hand though, for the ruse of the Wooden Horse was being put into effect. From the belly of the creature emerged the Achaean heroes whilst the city of Troy slept a drunken slumber.
During the Sacking of Troy, Menelaus would go to the home of Deiphobus, possibly guided by signal from Helen, and there, the full anger of Menelaus was directed towards Deiphobus, for Paris was already dead.
Menelaus had not come alone, and with the assistance of Odysseus, Deiphobus was overcome and killed by Menelaus; although it is occasionally said that Helen inflicted the killing wound to Deiphobus.
Menelaus was then said to have horribly mutilated the body of Deiphobus, cutting the ears, nose and limbs from the son of Priam. The mutilated soul of Deiphobus was subsequently seen by his former comrade Aeneas in the Underworld; with Deiphobus telling Aeneas of the treachery of Helen. While with Aeneas, he begs the gods for revenge against the Greeks.
Hyginus, Fabulae 115.
Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae from The Myths of Hyginus translated and edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies.
Homer, The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924.
Homer, Homeri Opera in five volumes. Oxford, Oxford University Press. 1920.
Publius Vergilius Maro, Aeneid. Theodore C. Williams. trans. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1910.
Publius Vergilius Maro, Bucolics, Aeneid, and Georgics. J. B. Greenough. Boston. Ginn & Co. 1900
"Greek Legends and Myths"
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