SHE WHO ENTANGLES MEN

March 27, 2007

THE MYTH OF CASSANDRA

Filed under: HISTORY — by noracassandra @ 7:41 am

cassandra1.jpg The story of the heroine Cassandra is a favorite in Greek mythology. Cassandra makes an appearance in many plays and poems, where often she is depicted in her most memorable role – that of prophetess. So let me explore this compelling Greek heroine, and learn about Cassandra in myth and legend.

Cassandra is mentioned briefly in the Iliad of Homer (which, incidentally, is one of our oldest and most respected sources for information about the characters of Greek myth). Indeed, in the Iliad, we learn that Cassandra was the child of King Priam of Troy and his wife Hecuba, and therefore was a princess of Troy. She was considered to be Priam’s most beautiful daughter. However, no mention of Cassandra’s notorious prophetic power is made in this Homeric epic. We first we find Cassandra had spent a night at Apollo’s temple with her twin brother Helenus, at which time the temple snakes licked her ears clean so that she was able to hear the future. The tale of Cassandra and her legendary gifts in other works of ancient Greek literature.

Once Cassandra had grown up, she again spent the night in Apollo’s temple. According to one version of the story, Cassandra received the power to foretell the future from the god Apollo. Apparently Apollo loved Cassandra; he instructed the mortal woman and taught her about the art of prophecy because he had an ulterior motive – the god wished to win her affections. Cassandra accepted Apollo as a teacher, but not as a lover. Some say she made a promise to Apollo to become his consort, but broke it, thus incurring his wrath. Naturally; the god was insulted by this refusal. So he punished Cassandra. Apollo caused the gift that he gave Cassandra to be twisted, making everyone who heard her true and accurate foretelling of future events believe that they were instead hearing lies. In other words, the wondrous blessing bestowed upon a mortal became instead a terrible curse.

Telephus, the son of Heracles, also loved Cassandra but she scorned him and instead helped him seduce her sister Laodice.

And indeed, the burden of Cassandra’s “gift” is evident in mythology. She predicted the outcome of many disastrous events. In one memorable example, Cassandra announced the dire consequences of the Trojans accepting the infamous Wooden Horse from their Greek opponents. Her family believes she is mad, and, according to some versions, keep her locked up because of this. In versions where she is incarcerated, this is typically portrayed as driving her truly insane, although in versions where she is not incarcerated; she is typically portrayed as remaining simply misunderstood.

Coroebus and Othronus came to the aid of
Troy out of love for Cassandra. Cassandra was also the first to see the body of her brother
Hector being brought back to the city.

Death of Cassandra comes after she flees to the altar of Athena for protection during the fall of Troy, but to no avail. Ajax 2 (the Lesser) pulls her from the sanctuary and rapes her. It is told that she was clinging to a wooden image of the goddess, which was knocked over from its stand, as
Ajax 2 dragged her away. Some have asserted (but others find this account too bold).

Cassandra is then taken as a concubine by King Agamemnon of Mycenae. Unbeknownst to Agamemnon, while he was away at war, his wife, Clytemnestra, had begun an affair with Aegisthus. Upon Agamemnon and Cassandra’s arrival in
Mycenae, Clytemnestra asks her husband to walk across a purple carpet, the color purple symbolizing the gods. He initially refuses, but gives in and enters; but by walking on this purple carpet he is committing sacrilege, ignoring Cassandra’s warnings. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus then murder both Agamemnon and Cassandra. Some sources mention that Cassandra and Agamemnon have twin boys Teledamus and Pelops, both of whom are illed by Aegisthus…


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15 Comments »

  1. depicted, compelling, epic, foretell, consort, bestowed, scorned, opponents, avail, account, bold?

    You need to reload the images on your old posts.

    This post is very interesting. I hope that you have more of these.

    Comment by Blue Ice Envy — February 20, 2008 @ 11:54 pm |Reply

  2. […] is unclear why this happened, though judging by the Cassandra myth, it is not a new phenomenon. Those who were right, and are still being ignored, do have something […]

    Pingback by CT Blue » Blog Archive » The Cassandra Effect — March 16, 2008 @ 12:47 am |Reply

  3. THat was a wondrful part of the story becuase im researching her in a school honors history project.

    Comment by Diana Hernandez — May 2, 2010 @ 12:49 am |Reply

  4. i hope it helped Diana Hernandez?! 😉

    Comment by noracassandra — August 3, 2010 @ 12:06 pm |Reply

  5. Thank you for this full story. I’ve heard over and over of Cassandra and Apollo, that he cursed her for refusing him, that she knew the Trojan horse as a trick but was not believed, that she later became the concubine of Agamemnon – but I’ve never checked into the story. It feels good to get more details.

    A thought – I don’t know if this has struck you. You may have heard of the Cassandra complex or Cassandra syndrome. I think this is a case of, not blame the victim, but name the victim. A better name, I think, would be the Apollo syndrome or Apollo complex – about people who have such a sense of entitlement that, if they don’t get their way, will do everything they can to inflict as much pain as they can on those who won’t give them what they want. Apollo – no concern at all for the destruction of Troy, delight (or so it seems) at Cassandra’s agony. Quite a ruthless guy.

    Comment by Elsa — September 6, 2010 @ 12:42 pm |Reply

    • my dear elsa… thank you for your amazing lovely comment dear!!!

      the name i carry is a hard heavy name… and to tell you the truth as myself i have been through apollo syndrome or apollo complex myself since i was born with that name!!! i do know how exactly it feels when it’s not my fault or at least i didn’t mean it and then just find others taking apollo’s stand with me… i still walk tall and strong as she did… and i’m lucky it’s the second part of my first name so might be softer (still painful) than what she went through!!!

      Comment by noracassandra — September 6, 2010 @ 1:40 pm |Reply

  6. love the pics in story

    Comment by daniel — May 11, 2011 @ 7:13 pm |Reply

  7. My name is Cassandra and it seems as thou all of my blessings get cursed!When I first noticed it was when I graduated from college and began my teaching career;however, I never passed the Praxis Exam, and I’m an excellent writer!Next,was when I got pregnant out of wedlock and it was torture!Finally,is the present!I fell in love with a guy and we planned to have a daughter whoes name was Fate, and I had a tubal pregnancy and he is now with someone else!Its such a strong name,but it comes with alot of drama and unneccassary pain!

    Comment by Cassandra C. Robinson — July 11, 2012 @ 9:48 am |Reply

  8. i was always hated my name growing up,but as i got older and got into history i relized wow another name couldnt fit me better! im very happy to have this beauiful name with the power of a beautiful woman behind it. My middle names are Sunshine Jewell so i have a very fun name!

    Comment by cassandra browning — September 14, 2012 @ 4:11 am |Reply

  9. so Cassandra was the second most beautiful woman in greek philosaphy,next to Helen bieng number one.correct?

    Comment by cassandra browning — September 14, 2012 @ 7:38 am |Reply

  10. i also feel a strong connection with this mythological story,my name is cassandra pearl gloria lovely and i feel that im so often right in the advice i give my friends regarding,love,life,etc,yet they dont heed my warnings!!my best friend has learnt this the hard way,one of her favourite sayings now is cassy,s always right,listen to her…i used to think its because of all the heartache men have caused me but i now beleive us cassandras do truly hold a strong sense of esp,when my mother discovered she was pregnant with me she wished for a green eyed,blonde haired daughter she would call cassandra and thats exactly what she got!!

    Comment by cassandra lovely — February 18, 2014 @ 1:45 am |Reply

  11. […] Cassandra, the daughter of the King and Queen of Troy, held the power of prophecy; yet following her refusal of the god Apollo’s seduction, she was cursed with her prophecies never being believed. Whilst this is known in Greek Mythology, much of the same is found in modern society in regards to understanding the success and failures of warnings. This was the premise that formed the basis of the inaugural lecture of Professor Christoph Meyer of the European and International Relations Department at Kings College London on February 26th. […]

    Pingback by The Cassandra Syndrome | rhulgeopolitics — March 7, 2014 @ 8:58 pm |Reply

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    Comment by Madeline — April 21, 2014 @ 7:22 pm |Reply

  14. My name is Cassandra

    Comment by Cassandra — January 16, 2015 @ 12:13 am |Reply


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