Priam had many wives; his first was Arisbe, who had given birth to his son Aesacus, who met his death before the Trojan War. Priam later divorced her in favor of Hecuba, the daughter of the Phrygian king Dymas. By various wives and concubines Priam was the father of fifty sons and many daughters. Hector was Priam's eldest son by Hecuba, and heir to the Trojan throne. Paris, another son, was the cause of the Trojan War. Other children of Priam and Hecuba include the prophetic Helenus and Cassandra; eldest daughter Ilione; Deiphobus; Troilus; Polites; Creusa, wife of Aeneas; Laodice, wife of Helicaon; Polyxena, who was slaughtered on the grave of Achilles; and Polydorus, his youngest son.
King Priam was originally called Podarces and he kept himself from being killed by Heracles by giving him a golden veil embroidered by his sister, Hesione. After this, Podarces changed his name to Priam. His Greek name explains why among the trojan allies the Trojan themselves were the ones that communicated with Acheans without any issue, while Trojans themselves could not directly communicate with their allies.
When Hector is killed by Achilles, the Greek warrior treats the body with disrespect and refuses to give it back. Zeus sends the god Hermes 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. 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 (also known as Pyrrhus), but not before witnessing the death of his son Polites. Priam rebukes Neoptolemus, throwing a spear at him, harmlessly hitting his shield. Neoptolemus then drags Priam to the altar and there kills him too.