In Homer’s Iliad, one of the themes is the fate of those who cross the gods. Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. She was the sister of Hector, who was a hero of Troy and the subject of last week’s post, and Paris whose elopement/abduction of Helen had started the Trojan War. She was described as beautiful, elegant, intelligent, charming, insane, and cursed.
The last two—insane and cursed—were linked. Cassandra had attracted the attention of the god Apollo. Because of his love for her and evidently her promise to become his consort, Apollo granted her the gift of prophecy. In his anger when she spurned him, he decreed that no one would believe her prophecies.
Cassandra was hurt and frustrated when no one would believe her and upset when most believed her to be insane. She foresaw the destruction of Troy, the Greeks’ subterfuge with the Trojan Horse, and her own cruel fate. When Troy fell, Cassandra was taken from the Temple of Athena (See Pic of 4th century BC Greek vase) and assaulted by Ajax. She was given to King Agamemnon as a concubine. Both of them were murdered soon after their arrival in Greece by Agamemnon’s queen, Clytemnestra and her lover.
Two Greek quotes describe Cassandra well: “Those whom the gods love die young” and “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.”