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Cassandra, Ancient Princess of Troy, Priestess and Prophetess

Κασσάνδρα — Cassandra — ‘She who selects men’ from Indo-European ‘ku̯ēt-, ku̯ət- : kū̆t-‘, ‘to shake, winnow’and ‘1. ner(-t)-, aner-, əner-?’, ‘vital force; man’.

Cassandra was the daughter of Priam and Hecuba, king and Queen of Troy at the time of the Trojan War. Cassandra was one of the most beautiful women in the world at that time. She was also a priestess and a prophetess. Apollo had made her a prophetess because he admired her, but she later refused his advances. He then made it so no one believed her. It was she who recognized that Paris was Alexandros, lost son of Priam. She also recognized the true meaning of the Trojan horse, but no one believed her when she said the horse contained soldiers of the enemy.

Cassandra, Priestess of Apollo and Prophetess of Ancient Troy

Consider this quote from Agamemnon by Aeschylus, line 1203,

"            Cassandra
It was the seer Apollo who appointed me to this
Can it be the he, a god, was smitten with desire?
Ere now I was ashamed to speak of this.
Aye, in prosperity we all grow over nice.
Oh, but he struggled to win me, breathing ardent
love for me
Came ye in due course to wedlock's rite?
I promised consent to Loxias but broke my word.
Wert thou already possessed by the art inspired
by the god?
Already I prophesied to my countrymen all their
How came it then that thou wert unscathed by
Loxias wrath?
Ever since that fault I could persuade no on
of aught.

One has to wonder how or why Cassandra avoided being raped by Apollo if he loved her so much. But it must be noted that reason cannot be effective unless it is persuasive. And without being wedded to Apollo there can be no reason. But the process of reason that is connected to Apollo is ecstatic rather than considered.

Coroebus came to Troy to marry Cassandra, and was killed, according to the more popular account, by Neoptolemus, but according to the poet Lescheos, by Diomedes.

Cassandra was one of the most beautiful women in the world at that time. She was also a priestess and a prophetess. Apollo had made her a prophetess because he admired her, but she later refused his advances. He then made it so no one believed her. It was she who recognized that Paris was Alexandros, lost son of Priam.
She also recognized the true meaning of the Trojan horse, but no one believed her when she said the horse contained soldiers of the enemy.

During the sack of Troy she took refuge in the temple of
Athena and there embraced the statue of Athena. The lesser Ajax
came and ripped her away and raped her, thus creating a great sacrilege. The pictures of Cassandra often illustrate this scene. Her nakedness references her inferiority. This act was not taken lightly by Athena who punished the entire Greek Army with the loss of
thousands of men. Athena asked Zeus to bring a storm to disperse and sink the Greek ships when they returned home. Cassandra was a very tragic figure who never received any recognition. Ultimately she was murdered by Clytemnestra as the consort of Agamemnon to whom she had been enslaved as a prize of war. She could be viewed as a symbol for the intelligent women in society.

A picture of Cassandra as prophetess using a snake to provide the prophecy. Next to her is one interpretation of a Palladium. Even in ancient times it was a mystery what a palladium was. Some thought it was a statue. Others thought it was a phallic symbol. But most likely it was a chunk of wood split off a tree by lightning. Lightning was considered evidence of an epiphany. That people saw images in the chunk that looked like a person may have been the discovery of statuary.

Pictures of Cassandra

Later Images:

In the Iliad Idomeneus kills “Othryoneus from Cabesus, a sojourner,
who had but lately come to take part in the war. He sought Cassandra the fairest of Priam’s daughters in marriage, but offered no gifts of wooing, for he promised a great thing, to wit, that he would drive the sons of the Achaeans willy nilly from Troy; old King Priam had given his consent and promised her to him, whereon he fought on the strength of the promises thus made to him.”

Later in the Iliad ‘Priam and Idaeus then drove on toward the city
lamenting and making moan, and the mules drew the body of Hector. No one neither man nor woman saw them, till Cassandra, fair as golden Venus standing on Pergamus, caught sight of her dear father in his chariot, and his servant that was the city’s herald with him. Then she saw him that was lying upon the bier, drawn by the mules, and with a loud cry she went about the city saying, “Come hither Trojans, men and women, and look on Hector; if ever you rejoiced to see him coming from battle when he was alive, look now on him that was the glory of our city and all our people.”‘

In the Odyssey the ghost of Agamemnon tells Odysseus “And most pitiful of all that I heard was the voice of the daughter of Priam, of Cassandra, whom hard by me the crafty Clytemnestra slew.”

Questions and Answers

Question: Was the Trojan culture similar to Greeks?

Answer: Yes, there were many similarities, including language and religion, but Priam was an oriental despot with a harem, and pretty much absolute authority.

Question: What Greek lterary works was Cassandra mentioned in?

Answer: The Iliad and Odyssey, Agamemnon, The
Trojan Women
. Hesiod also mentions her.

Question: what pivitol role did cassandra play in the books THE ILLIAD AND THE AENEID

Answer: I will not consider the Aeneid because it is not a work by an
Ancient Greek. In the Iliad Cassandra does not play a pivotal role, but she is mentioned:

“And now Idomeneus, though his hair was already flecked with grey,
called loud on the Danaans and spread panic among the Trojans as he leaped in among them. He slew Othryoneus from Cabesus, a sojourner, who had but lately come to take part in the war. He sought Cassandra the fairest of Priam’s daughters in marriage, but offered no gifts of wooing, for he promised a great thing, to wit, that he would drive the sons of the Achaeans willy nilly from Troy; old King Priam had given his consent and promised her to him, whereon he fought on the strength of the promises thus made to him. Idomeneus aimed a spear, and hit him as he came striding on.” (Book XIII)

“Priam and Idaeus then drove on toward the city
lamenting and making moan, and the mules drew the body of Hector. No one neither man nor woman saw them, till Cassandra, fair as golden Venus standing on Pergamus, caught sight of her dear father in his chariot, and his servant that was the city’s herald with him. Then she saw him that was lying upon the bier, drawn by the mules, and with a loud cry she went about the city saying, “Come hither Trojans, men and women, and look on Hector; if ever you rejoiced to see him coming from battle when he was alive, look now on him that was the glory of our city and all our people.” (Book XXIV)

Question: How did Cassandra know what was inside the wooden horse of Troy when no-one else did ? Please reply as quick as possible.

Answer: Cassandra was a prophetess.

Question: Where can i find stories on her?

Answer: See above.

Question: How old was Cassandra when she died?????

Answer: She was murdered by Clytemnestra when she was about 21. She was old enough to have borne twin sons to Agamemnon who may have been killed by Aegisthus, the lover of Clytemnestra.

Question: Has her figure become a main character in any other literature, either with the name Cassandra or any other name? If so, what are the titles and authors?


Question: How do you describe her breifly?

Answer: Cassandra was the priestess daughter of Priam and Hecuba, king and queen of Troy. During the destruction of Troy she was raped at the altar of Athena and made a concubine of Agamemnon. She was murdered with Agamemnon
by Clytemnestra.

Question: what conections can be made between Dido and Cassandra?

Answer: Dido is purely a Roman myth and will not be considered here.

Question: how was she murdered

Answer: In the Odyssey Homer suggests that Clytemnestra stabbed Cassandra but others suggest that Aegistus had a hand.

Question: Cassandra was given the gift of forsight and the curse that no one believed her. You left the forsight part out.

Answer: A prophetess is one who has foresight. A prophesy is a statement by a prophet of what is going to happen. The prophet uses foresight to determine what will happen in the future. Thanks for pointing out that this clarification is needed.

Question: Can you send me any info on Cassandra? and What has society learned from her deeds and mistakes?

Answer: Cassandra was a beautiful young woman. She was so beautiful that she attracted the attention of the god Apollo who gave her the gift of prophesy. But she spurned and rejected him with the result that Apollo condemned her to never to be believed. Later her beauty got her raped by Ajax. Her beauty also attracted her to Agamemnon as his sex slave which later got her killed. Her life was a great tragedy, but it is not clear that there was a lesson to be learned. Beauty can cause trouble but is this a warning not to be beautiful? Should she not have spurned the attentions of Apollo? Prophesy is a wonderful gift, but there is always the problem of belief. Prophets are often spurned and rejected. And so they live in frustration and misery. This seems the moral of Cassandra’s story.

Question: Where in what place in the House of Clytmenestera was
Cassandra slain? For it is told that she would not enter the house of the couple seeking vengeance on Agamennon

Answer: Homer has Agamemnon say: “…it was not Poseidon
that smote me in my ships, and raised the dolorous blast of contrary winds, nor did unfriendly men do me hurt upon the land, but Aegisthus it was that wrought me death and doom and slew me, with the aid of my accursed wife, as one slays an ox at the stall, after he had bidden me to his house, and entertained me at a feast. Even so I died by a death most pitiful, and round me my company likewise were slain without ceasing, like swine with glittering tusks which are slaughtered in the house of a rich and mighty man, whether at a wedding banquet or a joint-feast or a rich clan-drinking. Ere now
hast thou been at the slaying of many a man, killed in single fight or in strong battle, yet thou wouldst have sorrowed the most at this sight, how we lay in the hall round the mixing-bowl and the laden boards, and the floor all ran with blood. And most pitiful of all that I heard was the voice of the daughter of Priam, of Cassandra, whom
hard by me the crafty Clytemnestra slew. Then I strove to raise my hands as I was dying upon the sword, but to earth they fell. And that shameless one turned her back upon me, and had not the heart to draw down my eyelids with her fingers nor to close my mouth.” (Odyssey, Book XI)

The main entrance of the ancient Greek palace opened into a court surrounded by an overhanging roof. This is where the cooking was done in the house and the smoke rose through the uncovered portion in the center of the court. This was also the public area of the house where feasts were held and parties given. A two story building was attached to this with bedrooms on the upper floor and
storerooms below. It seems likely that Agamemnon and Cassandra were both killed in the court of the house.

Question: is there any quotes of cassandra making her prophesies? in what texts are they in and what are they?

Answer: In the Agamemnon by Aeschylus, line 1313 Cassandra speaks:

"So. I am going in, and mourning as I go
my death and Agamemnon's. Let my life be done.
Ah friends,
truly this is no wild bird fluttering in a bush,
nor vain my speech.  Bear witness to me when I die,
when falls for me, a woman slain, another woman
and when a man dies for this wickedly mated man.
Here in my death I claim this stranger's grace of you."

Question: did cassandra’s suitor kill himself after seeing Ajax 2 rape her?

Answer: No. Her suitor was killed before Troy fell. It was Athena who saw the rape. And she was extremely unhappy with what she saw. But she made no attempt to interfere. But the result of her actions destroyed the victorious army before it returned home.

“And now Idomeneus, though his hair was already flecked with grey,
called loud on the Danaans and spread panic among the Trojans as
he leaped in among them. He slew Othryoneus from Cabesus, a
sojourner, who had but lately come to take part in the war. He
sought Cassandra, the fairest of Priam’s daughters, in marriage,
but offered no gifts of wooing, for he promised a great thing, to
wit, that he would drive the sons of the Achaeans willy nilly from Troy; old King Priam had given his consent and promised her to him, whereon he fought on the strength of the promises thus made to him.” Iliad, Book XIII.

Question: If Cassandra orient in descent, like kind of a modern turk would look? I’m try ing to get a good physical description of her, or an idea at the very least, I’m having trouble with the pictures on this link.

Answer: No. Cassandra was more of a Celt from central Europe. She could have been a nordic type with blond hair and blue eyes, but the ancient Greeks show her with dark hair. All we really know is that she was very beautiful. Pictures from Ancient Greece are not that helpful because they were made hundreds of years after she died. I feel you could use the English model Elizabeth Hurley as a fair guide to what she looked like.
Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant

Question: What is Cassandra’s opinion of Odysseus?

Answer: Cassandra and Odysseus are not directly involved. Cassandra considered Odysseus a wily opponent.

Question: what is the trojan horse look like?

Answer: A horse made of wood large enough to hold a dozen men in its belly.

Trojan horsi reproduction, Ancient image

Question: Was Cassandra a real person?

Answer: The classical Greeks treated her as a real person but they left no compelling evidence of her existence. We like to see bones of a young woman in a grave labeled Cassandra before we commit to her existence. Some of the mythological characters were first goddesses and then mortals. Cassandra is close to being a goddess as only goddesses have the power to foretell as she is said to have done. But the fact that she was murdered indicates she was mortal.

Question: What lines in the Odyssey can I find the ghost of Agamemnon?

Answer: Homer, Odyssey book 11, line 395
When I saw him I wept, and my heart had compassion on him, and I spoke, and addressed him with winged words: ‘Most glorious son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, what fate of grievous death overcame thee? (2.67)

Question: It is said that Cassandra had a relationsip with Agamemnon. Is this true?

Answer: At the end of the Trojan War Cassandra was the second most beautiful women in the world and she was enslaved as booty of the Trojan War. This was one of the excesses of the victors of that war. She was presented to Agamemnon as a prize of war and so became his sex slave. He deserved this prize because he was the victorious commander. As a result of this relationship she became pregnant with twins by him and she bore these twins before they left for Mycenae, his home. When Agamemnon and Cassandra arrived in Mycenae they were murdered, along with the twins, by Clytemnestra, his wife, and her lover.

Question: Hi, does Freud us the idea of Cassandra in one of his theories? I love to get any info you can send, I’m working on a term paper on the concept of Cassandra. Thanks

Answer: Cassandra is an excellent topic for a paper. She would also make a great tragedy. Sigmund Freud mad many references to Greek mythology but I know of no example of his use of Cassandra. Even so her beauty, powers of foretelling, her frustration at being disbelieved, her rape, her slavery, and her ultimate murder, make for a life racked with emotion and torment. She would need all the help from Freud she could get.

Question: What ability does Cassandra have?

Answer: You really do not want to call what Cassandra has an ability.  She can prophesy the future but she is compelled to do this in such a way that nobody believes her. As a powerful beauty she has the power to attract men sexually. She can speak and as long as what she says is not prophesy then people understand her.

Question: How did Cassandra a goddess come to be?

Answer: Cassandra was one of the most tragic persons ever to live. Most of her life was spent in frustration and torment. This is not the life of a goddess, nor was she ever a goddess. She was the mortal daughter of Priam and Hecuba, king and queen of Troy at the time of the Trojan War.

Question: Should I name a daughter “Cassandra”?

Answer: Cassandra is worthy of this, but your daughter may have a lot to live up to. To many it would be a worthy challenge.

Question: What other names does Cassandra have. Is she the same person as Sibyl?

Answer: Cassandra is also called Alexandra.

Question: whats the 2300 year old secret of cassandra of troy?

Answer: Cassandra of Troy possessed the power to predict the future with perfect accuracy. But, no one would believe her. Thus, everyone missed collecting unlimited riches.

Question: Did Cassandra have any other recorded phropheies or visions?

Answer: Prophesies of Cassandra:

  • She recognized her long-lost brother Paris.
  • She predicted calamities for the Trojans
  • She recognized the men in the Trojan horse.
  • She prophesied the return of Orestes.
  • She foresaw her own murder.

Question: do you have a Trojan Horse picture


Question: What would happen to the people who did not believe Cassandra, princess of Troy?

Answer: There is no necessary relationship between believing in
what Cassandra said and what happens in one’s life. This is just as there is no necessary relation between wisdom and success or happiness in life. One has to draw a connection between a wise statement and what might be applicable in one’s own case. Only if the wise statement applies to you do you have to do anything. If there is wisdom that applies to you and you ignore it then you suffer needlessly. But how much you suffer depends on what you choose to ignore. If Cassandra says that it will rain today and you ignore her then you get wet. If Cassandra says there are warriors in the wooden horse and you ignore her then you will die or be enslaved
when Troy falls.

The case of teaching evolution in the state of Ohio is similar. A person as wise as Cassandra would assert the truth of the theory of evolution. Many would want to ignore her because her assertion would deny the truth of what was in the Bible. They might even accuse her of being a pagan instrument of the Devil to silence her. But even though the theory of evolution is very useful in making scientific statements more accurate, still these statements apply to few everyday activities. And an ignorant person could survive quite well without them. But it is always possible that the day would
come when such a statement were needed, and then his survival would be challenged. If there was any moral to the story of Cassandra it is to listen carefully to the statements of the wise. And this means teaching evolution to the students of Ohio.

Question: was cassandra beautifull

Answer: She was extremely beautiful. She was so beautiful that the god Apollo tried to bribe her with special powers of prophesy. He hoped she would have sex with him but she spurned him. She was so beautiful that many suitors fought and died on the side of Troy seeking her hand. She was so beautiful that Ajax was driven to rape her in spite of the fact that she was under the protection of Athena. The descendents of Ajax were punished for 1000 years because of this act of extreme rashness. She was so beautiful that the great king Agamemnon chose her as a prize of war and preferred her to his lawful wife, the sister of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world.  But she was not as beautiful as Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships and set the world at war.

Question: was cassandra one of the top ten beautifull women in greek myth

Answer: Only Helen was more beautiful than Cassandra. But Cassandra was much more talented that Helen. No one listened to Helen but everyone should have listened to Cassandra. Cassandra knew the secret of victory in the Trojan War and the ones that listened to her finally won that war.

Question: how can you tell if you are cassandra reincarnated?

Answer: Answer yes to all of the following questions:

  • Do you have the gift of prophesy?
  • Do people laugh at you in disbelief when you prophesy?
  • Are you almost the most beautiful woman in the world?
  • Are you very intelligent?
  • Are you ready to submit to unbelievable indignities?

Question: Why did Clytemnestra kill Cassandra?

Answer: Jealousy. Cassandra was smarter and more beautiful than
Clytemnestra. Agamemnon was going to kick Clytemnestra out and make Cassandra his wife because of her beauty and intelligence. This is the classic tale of the older man kicking out his old wife and taking on a new young one. Today the old wife can get some satisfaction by taking her husband to court and getting a divorce settlement. In those days a strong woman could follow Clytemnestra’s example or be put out in the cold. Most wives ended up in the cold.


Question: when did cassandra become alexandra ?

Answer: Some have said that these two names mean the same thing. But I do not find this to be true. Some have said ‘Cassandra’ means ‘helper of man’ or ‘disbelieved by man’. But I find that the closest Greek word relates to something stiched of leather or a heavy garment. Since the name is in Homer it may be of Indo-European origin, Κασσάνδρα — Cassandra — ‘She who entangles men’ from Indo-European ‘kwet-‘, ‘To shake’ and ‘ner-2’, ‘Man’.

Alexander is from the Greek name Alexandros, which meant “protecting men” from Greek alexein “to defend, help” and aner “man” (genitive andros). Alexandra is the feminine form of this name. An Indo-European derivation of this name is possible as well. Alexandra — ‘Defending men’ from Indo-European ‘alek-‘, ‘To ward off, protect’ and ‘ner-2’, ‘Man’.

Question: Cassandra was mortal but did she really exist? Is she a myth? Legend?

Answer: The ancient Greeks thought she was real. We have no independent confirmation such as a tombstone or other remains. That is why we refer to her stories as myth. But many of the details of ancient Greek myth have been confirmed. It is probably better to assume she was real and understand that the stories about her might not be totally accurate. It is quite wrong to assume that her stories are just made up.

Question: At what time was she captured and made a prisoner?

Answer: At the end of the Trojan War, when Troy was sacked, Cassandra was captured, along with many of the other women of Troy. Some women, such as Helen and the mother of Theseus, were liberated.

Question: when was she born

Answer: Cassandra was born about fifteen years before the start of the Trojan War.

Question: details about Hector (age, eye color, birth date, etc.)

Answer: As far as I know all information about Hector is found in The Iliad.

Question: is she the helper of men

Answer: Somebody hoped she would be as this is what some thought her name meant, and she probably helped some. But others were greatly aggravated by her.

Question: who is ajax and why did he rape cassandra?

Answer: When Troy was captured, Ajax the Locrian, son of Oileus, found her in the temple of Athena clinging to the sacred statue of the goddess (the Palladium), dragged her away, and raped her. Some would like to think he was overcome by her beauty as she was truly beautiful. Some would like to think so and blame her for exposing herself in this way. But really this rape was an act of aggression and Ajax was feeling very aggressive as he attempted to destroy Troy and his behavior had little to do with her beauty. He failed to control himself because as a suppliant of Athena she should have been left alone. He committed a sacrilege by attacking a suppliant and he committed another sacrilege by having sex with her in the temple of the virgin Athena. This sacrilege was so awful that to expiate this sacrilege the Locrians were obliged to send two maidens to Troy every year for a thousand years to serve as slaves in Athena’s temple; if they were caught by the inhabitants before reaching the temple they were executed. Many Locrian girls were raped, tortured, and executed as a result. But the perpetrators were not prosecuted because this was considered a sacrifice.

In addition, Athena was so incensed by the defilement of her temple that she had Zeus bring a storm down upon the victorious Greek fleet, destroying half the men. As a result this one act may have brought the downfall of the Mycenaean civilization. This rape was not an act of passion, not a crime that caused pain to one woman and her family, but a horrendous act that resulted in the deaths of many thousands of men.

Rape at that time did have some respectability. It was considered brave for man to kidnap a woman and take her home to be his wife. But even then when a man forced himself upon a woman, had sex with her, and left her dead or injured, was considered a hateful crime. Clearly what Ajax did was despicable. In this one act he erased all the good he accumulated by his bravery during the Trojan war. Surely he had some sense of the magnitude of his crime, but
he did it anyway.

For a cause the victim might be reviewed. Cassandra was an extremely beautiful woman and, as a result of the defeat of the Trojans she was very vulnerable and fearful of being enslaved. She may even have lost her clothes in the turmoil of the defeat as some illustrations indicate. So she was naked and trembling. Ajax may have found this so sexy that he could not control himself, and in a fit of passion raped Cassandra. This is akin to a cat torturing a mouse before he kills it.  But can’t we hope that a man has more moral responsibility than a cat?>

But more likely is the possibility that Ajax was humiliated by his mother when he was young. His mother may have resented his birth because he stole her freedom and symbolized the dominance of her husband. His rape of Cassandra may have been an attempt to punish his mother for her humiliation.

Much literature suggests that a good reason for violent sex is the pleasure that it provides the victim. There are women with personality quirks that do enjoy a painful experience, but they are rare, and their existence cannot be used to justify the pain in the majority who suffer. Actually we do not know why a man such as Ajax rapes a woman such as Cassandra. We do know it is wrong and should not happen.

Question: how is cassandra represented in libation bearers, electra and electra? does she have any power over the matters? how is she different from males mentally, physically and socially? who are the men responsible for forging her character? does her character tell us anything about these males?

Answer: This is a good paper topic. But be careful to distinguish the
nature of physical fate from plot mechanism. In “Agamemnon” she is represented as a strong and intelligent woman who will not lightly wear the collar of slavery.” Apollo is the only man represented as forging her character.

Question: If Cassandra saw her own murder why didn’t she do anything to stop it, did she even try to stop her own death?

Answer: What the fates have decreed cannot be altered even by the
divinities. As a prophetess Cassandra could know the fates’ decree without having the power to alter it. Cassandra states in the “Agamemnon” that her life is too miserable to save. She plainly did not like the destruction of her family, nor was she willing to endure being a sex slave.

Question: What was Cassandra’s personality like?

Answer: Most people found her personality to be very unstable and she was considered crazy. She said a lot of things that people did not
understand or did not want to hear. Her ravings were so difficult that she was sometimes confined as a mad woman. In spite of her perceived madness she was very beautiful and considered very desirable. She was also very intelligent. Some describe her as as disheveled young woman, wild-eyed and shrill, and compare her with modern day fanatics claiming the end of the world. But I cannot consider this very seriously. Such a woman would not be desirable. Rather she seems to be a woman far to intelligent for her own good. It is not unusual for an intelligent woman to be treated poorly. She is in the company of Medea, Hypatia, and, Joan of Arc in this regard.

Question: What are some related myths to Cassandra’s myth?


  • When young she was left at the Temple of Apollo for, at least, a few days and nights
  • Cassandra identified Paris as her brother.
  • Cassandra predicted that Paris’s trip to Sparta would be a disaster.
  • She had two suitors killed during the Trojan War
  • Cassandra identified the Trojan horse as a trap.
  • Cassandra was raped by the Locrian Ajax.
  • Agamemnon obtained her as a sex-slave.
  • She was killed by Aegisthus and Clymtenestra.

Question: I have to make a coat of arms with 3 symdols for Cassandra. What symbols should I draw?

Answer: This is not a happy subject. The symbols that you should use might not be suitable in polite company. Picasso deals with suitable symbols in his etching Minotauromachy which you can study. In that picture the three most relevant symbols for Cassandra are the candle, the crushed and bare-breasted girl, and the bull.  The candle represents the prophecy and truth of Cassandra, the girl represents her victimization, and the Bull represents the horrible forces that
are unleashed against her.

Hi, I am in 6th grade and writing a report on Cassandra. Every myth and/or story about her that I have found about her has a plot geared by the people who have raped her. Do you know if there are any less-known tales about Cassandra that do not deal with these issues, the sort of thing that I could read in front of my 11 year-old classmates?

Answer: There are a number of stories about Cassandra. Her rape is important because it was unholy. Though it is a nasty subject it is not something that should be ignored. It is better to deal with it in a truthful and respectful way. Cassandra sought refuge in the temple of Athena. Ajax violated the sanctity of the temple and raped Cassandra. This angered Athena who asked Zeus for vengeance. Zeus responded with a storm that destroyed half of the Greek soldiers. So this rape was very bad and had a very bad result. Rape is not an act of love or sex. It is an act of hate and destruction.

When Cassandra was young she received the gift of prophecy because she was favored by Apollo. Cassandra wanted Paris destroyed when he was born because of the trouble he would cause. When Paris arrived back in Troy only Cassandra recognized him. When Paris wanted to go to Sparta to carry off Helen (a rape, but not a rape in the same sense as Cassandra) Cassandra said that it would lead to disaster. Cassandra has a number of suitors that come for her during the Trojan War but they are all killed in that war. One is even killed in the act of protecting her just before her rape. When the horse is delivered to Troy Cassandra denounces it because it contains armed men, but nobody believes her. After her rape she is dragged away to become a slave. Since she is extremely beautiful she is presented to Agamemnon. She becomes pregnant by him (not considered a rape because she is a slave) and has twins with her when she goes with Agamamnon to Mycenae. There she and her children are murdered by Clytemnestra. She led a very unhappy life.

As you can see Cassandra was involved with many things. But the concept of rape is constantly involved. Life in a society that allows rape is pretty horrible. But sometimes rape is similar to acceptable acts. So individuals have to make tough decisions. Children are often protected from these things but somehow they must learn about them as they grow up. And the tough thing is that when they are adults they must make tough decisions or life for everyone will be unhappy. Good luck with your 11 year old classmates, but they will be adults only too soon.

The story of Cassandra is interesting because so many different types of rape are illustrated. One type she was not involved with was when a god rapes a maiden. How she avoided this in not clear. Some stories say that she received the gift of prophecy because she promised to have sex with Apollo and later reneged. Why didn’t he just rape her? Unlike rape by a man rape by a god has its benefits. The offspring is superior and the beauty of the mother is certified. Clearly the rape by Ajax was destructive. Fortunately Cassandra
did not become pregnant. Mothers have difficulty with dealing with such offspring and a male child often grows up to be criminal. When Helen was raped by Paris he probably had her consent. In those days if you wanted to marry a girl you often had to carry her off to separate her from her family.  Though the consent of the girl was not required things were an awfully lot easier if you had it. This way the girl could choose her spouse by making herself available. Our current custom of the groom carrying the bride over the
threshold is a relic of those ancient times. If Agamemnon had sex with Cassandra when she was his slave it was rape. A slave has no consent. And the offspring of such a union are forever punished. There is always the question of their status. Are they slave or free? Agamemnon could have been a law unto himself but this usually makes many people unhappy.

Question: Which culture first told the story of Cassandra, eg: Who first wrote it down? Did the myth serve some kind of purpose to the people at the time? Why was the myth of Cassandra important to the people who believed in it in ancient times?

Answer: The oldest story of Cassandra may be that of Homer but what he describes of her is little of what later is attached to her. He has her only as a daughter of Priam. Much has been made of the historical accuracy of Homer’s works yet there is suggestion that Homer was inspired in some details by other stories from other cultures. When one looks at Cassandra’s name there are many meanings given, yet none of these meanings can be readily translated into classical Greek. This suggests that Cassandra’s
name and story may have been imported from another culture. Some have looked at the end of the name and have seen a similarity to ‘andros’, the Greek word for man. The beginning is related to ‘kekasmai’, Greek for shining. Another word in Greek similar to ‘Cassandra’ is ‘Cassiopeia’. This is translated as ‘cassia juice’. Cassia plants are related to Cinnamon plants and so the name has a foreign origin as these plants come from Southeast Asia. If the ‘Cass’ comes from cassia then ‘Cassandra’ might be translated ‘spice of man’. At least this meaning is consistent with the general meaning of her story.

Her exceptional beauty is attractive to men and gods – but it’s a beauty which is fatal to others, and brings her no happiness. She’s the worst kind of tease, beautiful, apparently willing, and then saying no at the last moment even to Apollo. In Homer a foreign prince comes to Troy as her fiancé and gets killed immediately. Men will promise her marriage but death will ensure that there is no satisfactory consummation. Greek society did not recognize the woman’s right to say “No”!. She might be looked at as mad
for this reason. The rejection of her prophecies may be a denial of women’s intelligence. In the ancient Greek culture she may have been symbolic of women’s plight.

Question: I have read that cassandra had not been murdered by clytemnestra as a tablet # 803 in the Archaeological Museum in Athens says that a gift was sent by Agathon son of Ekhephylos, the Xakynthian Family descendant of cassandra of Troy by 30 generations to Zeus of Dodona. I want to know the fate of cassandra and her real story.

Thank you so much for telling me of this tablet. But the tablet is not necessarily in conflict with the story of her murder. The literature of Classical Greece states that Cassandra was taken to Athens by Agamemnon with twins Teledamus and Pelops. When she was murdered they probably escaped and survived. So Cassandra could still have been murdered but could have descendents from her sons.

The problem of finding the truth of this story is difficult. Mostly what we have are myths that were retold by bards many times before they were written down by the archaic and classical Greeks. These stories are not consistent and can only be resolved if other data is found. More written material is not that helpful because there is very little writing that is actually contemporary to what is thought to be the time of Cassandra. Even Homer wrote almost 800 years after she was supposed to have lived. Archaeology studies the physical remains of ancient civilizations. Sometimes conclusions can be drawn about ancient events from these remains. The Amyclaeans claimed that the grave of Cassdandra was located at Amyclae. But Aeschylus says Cassandra was killed at Mycenae. If her grave could be located with her remains intact an autopsy could be done to determine the cause of death. But no such grave has been identified. One problem is that ancestor worship during the classical period caused the exhumation of many graves so the contents could be moved. Unfortunately there is not much confidence today that the ancients really knew what grave to exhume. And the moving of the corpse generally resulted in further destruction to the remains.

Cassandra was a princess and a priestess of the ancient Trojan culture. As such she can be compared to similar persons, including shamans in other cultures. An article that deals with the archaeology of this type of person is:
More Circe than Cassandra: The Princess of Vix in ritualized social context

What is the role of Cassandra in Agamemnon

Answer: She is the tragic heroine, resigned to her fate. She is the symbol of women whose fate depends on men. She is the profetess that nobody believes.

Question: What is Cassandra’s Secret???

Answer: Cassandra of Troy possessed the power to predict the future with perfect accuracy. But, no one would believe her. Thus, everyone missed collecting unlimited riches. See Cassandra’s Secret. This is the widely proclaimed secret and so it is commonly known. But her name reveals another secret — Κασσάνδρα — Cassandra — ‘She who entangles men’ from Indo-European ‘kwet-‘, ‘To shake’ and ‘ner-2’, ‘Man’. When Troy fell to the army of Agamemnon and the spoils were to be divided it was determined that Cassandra was the most beautiful and desirable woman in all of Troy. So she became a prize of war and was given to Agamemnon. And so she entangled men with her beauty. But she also entangled men as reason does. It is interesting that her god, Apollo, is the god of reason. Athena is the goddess of knowing while Apollo is the god of the way of thought that is reason. Reason is an entanglement as revealed in her own words, “And yet, ’tis all one whether or not I win belief. What matters it? What is to come will come” Agamemnon, Aeschylus, line 1239. Apollo is listed as the god of prophesy. Prophesy is the prediction of the future. But the process of determining what is to come is not the interpretation of babble as is told of the Oracle at Delphi. It is the process of realizing that reality is rule bound and that reason allows rules to be applied to events of the past to determine the future. The statement that the events of reality are determined is the same as that reality is rule bound. But this also means that if you know the rules you can change the future. But is it then determined? This is the classic freedom versus determinism issue over which philosophers have argued ever since Cassandra. It is the pursuit of the rules in the form of the laws of nature that began in ancient Greece and led to modern science that has made our world what it is today. So Cassandra seems to have entangled men in the pursuit of science and all its benefits.

Question: How does her life evolve and end?

Answer: Cassandra is a very tragic figure. Even in the Iliad the tragic nature of her life is evidenced, but it is only suggested. In the “Agamemnon” her early tragedy is explained. She must have been a beautiful young girl and she found favor with powerful men as a result. As a result of this favor she tried to better herself intelectually, but the men wanted sexual favours. The result was that her efforts to benefit her society were frustrated. This is an interpretation of her relationship to Apollo. Her beauty continued to blossom however. At the end of the Trojan war she was considered a valuable prize for her beauty. But she tried to assert the value of her thought. Hence her escape to The temple of Athena. There she was sexually assaulted by the lesser Ajax of Locria. She was used by Athena to tempt the Greek forces and because they could not control themselves Athena punished them on their return home. The crime against Cassandra was so severe that the Locrians had to compensate Troy for over 1000 years. After the rape she was still considered a very valuable prize because of her beauty and she was given to Agamemnon as a sex slave. Then she bore him twin sons. But when Agamemnon took Cassandra home she was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra. Cassandra seemed to know that she would be murdered but she did nothing to save herself. She did not seem to think life had anything to offer her anymore. She was about 21 when she was murdered.

Question: Women of Troy — regarding the euripides play, what happens in the scene where she (cassandra) returns to her mother rejoicing at her marriage?

Answer: The theme of the play “The Trojan Women” is stated by Poseidon line 95:

"how are ye blind, 
Ye treaders down of cities, ye that cast 
Temples to desolation, and lay waste 
Tombs, the untrodden santuaries where to lie 
The ancient dead; yourselves so soon to die!

Cassandra is happy to be the bride of Agamemnon because she knows that she will seal his fate. She knows his fate is to be murdered. She also knows that if she pronounces his fate no one will believe her and his death is a certainty. She prophesies just what Poseidon wills. And so the tragedy of Hecuba will become the tragedy of of her tormentors. Note that she says, line 356,

A bloodier bride than ever Helen was 
Go I to Agamemnon, Lord most high 
Of Hellas!

Question: How does the story of Greek myth Cassandra being modified into the modern metaphor and how is it used today?

Answer: A discussion of the Cassandra metaphor can be found at metaphor. The metaphor seems to have developed quite naturally out of the story of Cassandra as found in “Agamemnon” by Aeschylus. It was Sigmund Freud who stated that when he looked into the subconscious of man he found Greek myths so it has been common since Freud to use myths to label psychological archetypes. It is possible that this is productive due to the wonderful insight and generality of the ancient Greek myths. It is also possible that the myth of Cassandra was included in the drama by Aeschylus as a criticism of the Sophists who taught that wealth and affluence came from the proper use of argument. Cassandra’s arguments are without substance and so they fail. Proper arguments must proceed from what is commonly believed or they cannot be understood. I point this out to clarify one difference between the classical Greeks and the psychoanalists of today. The ancient Greeks were very concerned about the structure of argument and truth while psychologists are concerned about emotion and its non-rational effects. This difference is conflated in the problem of global warming. The results of scientific studies of global warming experiments are difficult to interpret and so challenging to the ordinary person who needs to act on this data. The result is that the ordinary person acts on his emotions and may not be able to respond to the the danger presented by the scientist.

Question: What was Cassandra’s full name? When is her exact birthday? Did she have curly hair? About how tall was she? Did she have any type of journal or diary, what was in it?

Answer: Cassandra lived at the time of the Trojan war, about 3200 years ago. At that time a person was given only one name and Cassandra was hers. She was a mortal and at that time birthdays of mortals were not recorded. In the vase paintings made during the classical period she is shown with curly hair, but these images were formed some 700 years after she died. There were no images made of her while she lived. At the time she lived writing was not well known and hardly any diaries survive from anyone. But she did many exciting things and many exciting stories exist about her. These are called myths since there are only stories, they are written as poetry, and no physical artifacts remain. She was believed to interact with deities. She also possessed powers which are considered spiritual. These are what you find in myths. The stories were so exciting that they were repeated by word of mouth for over 700 years. At the time of Homer writing was becoming common in ancient Greece and that is when the stories of Cassandra were written down. This was about 2700 years ago. The stories of Cassandra are some of the oldest that exist today.

Question: Hi, Just wondering… is Cassandra mad and Blind? I read that she was but I’m not entirely sure.

Answer: To her companions she seems to be raving, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. This is because of the curse of Apollo who said no one would believe her even though she had the gift of prophesy. One has to wonder what mistake she made to deserve this treatment. Initially she had the favor of Apollo and then she spurned him resulting in his curse. Most of the idea if this curse is to be found in the “Agamemnon” of Aeschylus lines1202-1212. Homer does not mention it.

Question: For Drama, I’m doing a Monologue on Cassandra, From the play Women of Troy. A similar copy of the Monologue is found in the Trojan War, Cassandra, who has the gift of prophesy, is given as a concubine to Agamemnon. She sees herself ironically as given the opportunity as a “bride” to kill her “husband” and thus incur her own destruction. She then goes on to paint a picture of the sorry end of invaders killed in battle. how would you recommend I play Cassandra and how do you think she feels about her current situation in life?

Answer: Consider the following presentation by Talthybius line 407 of Euripides, The Trojan Women:

“Had not Apollo turned your wits to maenad revelry, you would not for nothing have sent my chiefs with such ominous predictions forth on their way. But, after all, these lofty minds, reputed wise, are nothing better than those that are held as nothing. For that mighty king of all Hellas, dear son of Atreus, has yielded to a passion for this mad maiden of all others; though I am poor enough, yet would I never have chosen such a wife as this. As for you, since your senses are not whole, I give your taunts against Argos and your praise of Troy to the winds to carry away.”

This passage suggests that Cassandra is very passionate and yet still very attractive to men. This will be a difficult part to play. She speaks with confidence in spite of the fact that her speech just blows over her listeners. Some of her confidence comes from the fact that she was wronged, raped in the temple of Athena, and she knows that this outrage will be punished. The moral message of the speech cannot be ignored. She is speaking not only to her contemporaries, to the audience in Athens, but to everyone, everywhere. Study what she says and enunciate the truth of it.

Understand that this part was originally not presented by a woman. It would be easy to post a sign that says ‘beautiful woman in appealing dress’. It would be easier for a man to present such a determined speech that seems against feminine nature. In ancient Greece the imagination had to fill in the details. But now to be truthful one must stage the presentation with a beautiful woman in a dress that reveals everything ideal about her beautiful body. Such a dress must float like gossamer on her delicate skin. Yet she must be confident and determined and full of spirit about justice and what is right. This is a good example of how the ancient Greek wished to see the ideal in the messiness of reality. This can often only be seen in imagination. How can you stimulate that imagination in your presentation?

To fire the imagination about Cassandra it might be better not to portray her but rather describe her on stage. This device is used by Euripides on a number of occasions. You might present the monologue of her servant for example. In this monologue you might say,

“I just left Cassandra and her mother. This is hard to describe. She is so passionate and yet beautiful. He movements are full of grace and her gown flows with her. Any other person would be suffering from the horror of her life. Yet she is so determined. This is what she said,”

Then you present the monologue of Cassandra. After the monologue you might say,

“What ominous predictions she gave to our leaders. And yet no one who heard her believed what she said. Her words to them was like the breeze that just is felt and drifts away.”

In this way you avoid having to portray what may, in fact, be impossible, and leave everything to the imagination of the listener.

Question: In my monologue (Euripides, The Trojan Women lines 354 to 406), what would you say is Casssandra’s motivation as she speaks to her mother. What point is she trying to make? What does she want from this conversation?

Answer: She is trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. She is saying, “Do not worry about me Mother. In the larger scheme of things I will be OK.” And, indeed in the larger scheme of things she is OK. She achieves immortality. We are still talking about her. How many of us will be talked about 3500 years after our death? Her death is indeed tragic. And yet we think about her positively as one who struggled and achieved a good name for herself. In a real sense she overcame the pain of suffering and death. She is a classic tragic figure. She tried to help people to keep them from suffering and they ignored her. She is a wonderful example for many people today who must face similar challenges.

Question: In the Agamemnon, Clytaemestra describes Cassandra’s death, indicating Cassandra sang her swan-like thrednody and (I don’t read Greek but have looked at several translations) added relish/excitement to Clytaemestra’s bed. Did Clytaemestra also rape Cassandra?

Answer: I believe the passage you wish to consider is this:

“Here lies the man who did me wrong, plaything of each Chryseis at Ilium; [1440] and here she lies, his captive, and auguress, and concubine, his oracular faithful whore, yet equally familiar with the seamen’s benches. The pair has met no undeserved fate. For he lies thus; while she, who, like a swan, [1445] has sung her last lament in death, lies here, his beloved; but to me she has brought for my bed an added relish of delight.” Aeschylus, Agamemnon line 1438.

The Greek:
"κεῖται γυναικὸς τῆσδε λυμαντήριος,
Χρυσηίδων μείλιγμα τῶν ὑπ᾽ Ἰλίῳ:
ἥ τ᾽ αἰχμάλωτος ἥδε καὶ τερασκόπος
καὶ κοινόλεκτρος τοῦδε, θεσφατηλόγος
πιστὴ ξύνευνος, ναυτίλων δὲ σελμάτων
ἰσοτριβής. ἄτιμα δ᾽ οὐκ ἐπραξάτην.
ὁ μὲν γὰρ οὕτως, ἡ δέ τοι κύκνου δίκην
τὸν ὕστατον μέλψασα θανάσιμον γόον
κεῖται, φιλήτωρ τοῦδ᾽: ἐμοὶ δ᾽ ἐπήγαγεν
εὐνῆς παροψώνημα τῆς ἐμῆς χλιδῆς. "

This passage is extremely hard to translate and any particular translation is going to depend upon the interpretation of the story of the translator. You can verify this fact by putting the Greek into Google translate and seeing that the result is barely intelligible. Much effort was made by scholarship in the Nineteenth century to probe the meaning of these words but whether any progress has been made in this passage would require a careful study of each word in Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon. Now recent development in the study of the Indo-European roots of Languages such as Greek provides a new source of interpretation and even more complication.

The word Aeschulus uses ‘κύκνου’ actually means ‘swan’ and the Greek word for lament ‘θρήνος’ does not appear. The last line could possibly be translated ‘she sang her swan song and it made me feel more feminine’.

In your question you suggest that Clytemnestra my have become sexually excited by the act of perhaps impaling another women (if she used a dagger or a sword). This is what happened to Achilles with Penthesileia. Many authors seem to impute Clytemnestra with masculine traits. But others suggest she was trying to be a woman in a man’s world. She was a victim just as Chryseis was a victim. But Chryseis was entirely passive. Clytemnestra took action. Since her husband was supreme ruler she was limited in who she could appeal to redress her husbands wrongs. So she took action herself. But it was the action that a man would take. But then she killed Cassandra. Cassandra’s death is not that easy to justify. Cassandra also was a victim. Cassandra was not passive like Chryseis either. The action that she took was to speak. And when she spoke she was not believed. Had Clytemnestra spoken out against her husband she might not have been believed either. If Clytemnestra raped Cassandra then it would be consistent with the idea that she was a woman taking the action of a man to redress her wrongs. But it would not be consistent with the idea of her being a woman as a victim.

Later Orestes killed Clytemnestra because she killed his father. He was tormented by the furies because it was a grave sin to kill one’s parents. Later Athena brought Orestes to trial for his act. He was exonerated by just one vote, the vote of Athena. The murder of Cassandra was not even mentioned. Her murder of Agamemnon can be justified but her murder of Cassandra cannot. Some have said that Athena’s vote justified taking action against a woman taking on the action of a man. Many ancient Greeks were unhappy that Athena was a woman and it is said that her birth full grown from the head of Zeus was a statement that she really was not a woman. And so she was not as sympathetic with Clytemnestra as she could have been.