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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cassandra of Troy

Cassandra (also called Alexandra), in Greek myth, the prophetic daughter of Priam, king of Troy, and Hecuba his wife. For Homer, who knows nothing of her prophetic gifts, she is the most beautiful of Priam's daughters. It was according to a later tradition that she was loved by Apollo and given the gift of prophecy, but when she refused his love he condemned her to the fate of always prophesying truthfully but never being believed. She appears in Greek tragedy in this role, vainly foretelling the fall of Troy. 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. 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. This obligation continued into the second century BC. After the sack of Troy Cassandra was awarded to the Greek commander Agamemnon as his concubine, but on their return to Mycenae she was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra.

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