Hecuba was one of the wives of Priam, the King of Troy. According to Homer, she had 19 sons and daughters with him, including Hector, Paris , Troilus, Deiphobos, Helenus and Polydorus, as well as her daughters Cassandra, Plyxena and Laodice.

When Hecuba was pregnant, she had had a dream that she had brought forth a firebrand, burning Troy to the ground. The wise interpreted this to mean that her son would destroy Troy. Therefore, when Paris was born, she gave him to a shepherd to be abandoned in the wild and to die of starvation. Somehow Paris survived, and returned to his homeland after many years of solitude. He was recognised and welcomed back into his family. Paris later takes Helen away from Menelaus, resulting in a war, which fulfils the original prophecy.

Hecuba, in Homer's Iliad, beseeches Athena to prevent disaster from hitting Troy, offering her a fine garment. Athena ignores this offering.
After begging her son Hector to come into Troy, which he ignores, she watches him die, and realizes that Troy's life was coming to an end.

In Vergil's The Aeneid, Hecuba prevents her husband Priam from fighting by begging, with their sons and daughters, for him to take refuge with them. They watch Polites, having been wounded by Neoptolemus, die in front of their eyes. Neoptolemus then drags Priam through pools of his son's blood, before slaughtering him too.

Hecuba also makes an appearance in Euripides. She laments that with her own eyes she had seen her sons killed by the Greeks, and her daughters taken as prisoners, and her husband slaughtered by Neoptolemus. She also talks about how she was the slave of Odysseus, whilst her daughter was a concubine of Agamemnon's. Euripides focuses on this queen's suffering. She finds that her only surviving son, Polydorus, was dead. Enraged by this, she lures the King of the Thracians, Polymestor, and his two sons, into her tent, where she cuts out their eyes. The blinded King predicts the end of her life for her: that when she was sailing back to Greece, her ship would become a bitch with fiery eyes, and will plunge into the sea to her death.