Who was Cassandra of Troy?

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Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan (1898, London); Cassandra in front of the burning city of Troy at the peak of her insanity. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

When people ask – What is your book about? – I give the short version. My book is a reimagining of the story of prophetess Cassandra of Troy. My Cassandra lives in Queensland (Australia) in the 1980s.

In Greek Mythology, Cassandra was a princess in Troy.  The god Apollo fell in love – actually probably in lust with her.  Gods always seem to be trying to seduce someone. Zeus was a serious deviant. Cassandra promised she would have sex with Apollo in return for the gift of prophecy.

Cassandra breaks her promise and Apollo is seriously pissed off. He curses her (spits in her mouth even) and places a curse on her. He says she will always be able to predict the truth but no one would believe her.

Thinking about Cassandra’s breaking her promise to Apollo set me on the path to writing my book.  It is all a bit wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey as Dr Who would say. If Cassandra could reliably predict the future, she would see that Apollo would betray her. Good enough reason to change her mind and pull back from his ardent embrace. What say, in trying to save herself from Apollo’s curse she brought it down?

Cassandra is good at predicting the future. She tried to rip the beautiful Helen’s hair out because she foresaw Helen would be the downfall of Troy. She said the Greeks would turn up inside of a wooden horse and they all thought she was mad. They even stop her from destroying the Trojan horse much to the relief of the Greeks inside.

It does not end there for Cassandra. During the fall of Troy, Ajax rapes her in the temple of Goddess Athena. Athena is not impressed. With the help of Poseidon and Zeus, she takes revenge on Ajax and his Greek friends by sinking their boats. Odysseus has some trouble getting back to Penelope.

Poor Cassandra is taken as a prize by King Agamemnon, whose wife, feeling legitimately betrayed, murders both him and Cassandra.  Of course, Cassandra would have seen it all coming and no one would have believed. No wonder she had a reputation as a madwoman.

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