|Casandra, going mad, as Troy burns behind her. Just like she said it would. And no one would listen. Grrr!|
Painting by Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919)
Noun. Early 17th century.
[Latin from Greek Kas(s)andra, daughter of Priam king of Troy, condemned by Apollo to prophesy correctly but never to be believed.]
A prophet of disaster, especially one who is disbelieved.
One cannot but feel for Cassandra. The daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, mortal Cassandra was renowned for her exceptional charm, intelligence and beauty. Her biggest mistake, however, was getting mixed up with the god Apollo. It was he that taught Cassandra the art of prophecy, but in doing so seems to have misread the signals between himself and his student (clearly not a god of the omniscient variety then), for when he made his move on Cassandra, she flatly rejected his divine seductions. An infamous playboy, Apollo wasn't accustomed to rejection, and in a supernatural tantrum of toddleresque proportions he cursed poor Cassandra; she would forever carry the gift of prophecy, but no one would ever believe her divinatory words.
Cassandra suffered immensely under the burden of her curse, even predicting the fall of Troy by means of that damned wooden horse - she told them, and all they had to do was give that horse the once over, but would they listen? Oh no. Typical men. Ultimately, Cassandra went mad from the onus of her dark prophecies, and has thus become the archetype of the misunderstood, delphic prophet or, conversely, the hysterical woman: "Just stop and ask someone! Is it really such an affront to your masculinity to ask for directions? We'll get lost; you know we will. Look, there's someone. Ask him. No? What? Why aren't you listening. Oh great. Now we're lost. Didn't I tell you? I told you we'd get lost. Didn't I tell you that? Aargh! Your stubbornness is maddening!"
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