Kassandra (Greek: Κασσάνδρα), was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and the fraternal twin sister of Helenus.
Gift (Curse) of Prophecy
A common version of her story is that Apollo gave her the power of prophecy in order to seduce her, but when she refused, he spat into her mouth cursing her never to be believed. In an alternative version, she fell asleep in a temple, and snakes licked (or whispered in) her ears so that she was able to hear the future.
Her cursed gift from Apollo became a source of endless pain and frustration to Cassandra. Cassandra was seen as a liar and a madwoman by her family and by the Trojan people. In some versions of the story, she was often locked up in a pyramidal building on the citadel on her father King Priam’s orders. She was accompanied there by the wardress who cared for her under orders to inform the King of all of his daughter's "prophetic utterances". She was driven truly insane by this in the versions where she was incarcerated; though in the versions where she was not, she was usually viewed as being simply misunderstood.
According to legend, Cassandra had instructed her twin brother Helenus in the power of prophecy for him to be a prophet. Like her, Helenus was always correct whenever he had made his predictions; but unlike his sister, people believed him.
Fall of Troy
Kassandra foresaw the destruction of Troy. She warned the Trojans about the Greeks hiding inside the Trojan Horse, Agamemnon’s death and her own demise at the hands of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, her mother Hecuba's fate, Odysseus’s ten year wanderings before returning to his home, and the murder of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra by her children Electra and Orestes. Cassandra predicted that her cousin Aeneas would escape during the fall of Troy and found a new nation in Rome. However, she was unable to do anything to forestall these tragedies since no one believed her.
At the fall of Troy, Cassandra sought shelter in the temple of Athena and there she embraced the wooden statue of Athena in supplication for her protection, where she was abducted and brutally raped by Ajax the Lesser. Kassandra was clinging so tightly to the statue of the goddess that Ajax knocked it over from its stand as he dragged her away. Athena was furious at the Greeks’ failure to punish Ajax for his crime over his rape of Kassandra in her temple and she gravely punished them with the help of Poseidon and Zeus as Poseidon sent storms and strong winds for her to destroy much of the Greek fleet on their way home from Troy. She punished Ajax herself by causing him to have a terrible death though the sources of his death differ.
Cassandra was 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. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus then murdered both Agamemnon and Cassandra the minute they came home. Some sources mention that Cassandra and Agamemnon had twin boys, Teledamus and Pelops, both of whom were killed by Aegisthus.
King Priam (Priamos) and Queen Hecuba (Hekabe)
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