Posted by R. Berg on December 15, 2002
In Reply to: Re: Since Hector was a pup posted by TheFallen on December 15, 2002
: : : my old dad used to say something was old, since "Heck was
: : : Roman - Hecaba - dog - hades welp of cerberus?
: : : [email protected]
: : The traditional phrase is slightly different: "since Hector was a pup." Eric Partridge ("A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British") says it goes back to about 1920. Hector used to be a common name for a large dog.
: My understanding has always been that the Hector referred to is in fact Hector, the son of King Priam of Troy and his 2nd wife Hecuba, and one of the chief participants in the tale of the siege of Troy by the Greeks in classical times. Though possibly coincidental, Hector's mother Hecuba was later turned into a dog by the Gods as punishment.
Partridge's entry mentions Hector as a dog's name. I wouldn't be surprised if heroic names from classical history and myth were more popular for pets three (human) generations ago than they are now, because education was different then. There's humor in "since Hector was a pup" if construed as referring simultaneously to the Greek figure of long ago and to the bow-wow Hector of right now.