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In myth, daughter of Priam and Hecuba. In Homer she is mentioned as being the most beautiful of Priam's daughters, and she is the first to see her father bringing home the body of Hector. The Sack of Troy (see epic cycle) adds that during the sack she took refuge at the statue of Athena, but Aias (2) the Locrian dragged her away to rape her, and in so doing loosened the statue from its plinth. Perhaps Homer knew of this episode, for in the Odyssey he says that Aias was ‘hated by Athena’; but he makes no direct mention of it. Nor does he mention Cassandra's prophetic powers for which in later tradition she was famous. The Cypria first mentions her prophecies. Aeschy‐lus' Agamemnon tells how Apollo gave her the power of prophecy in order to win her sexual favours, which she promised to him. But she broke her word; so he turned the blessing into a curse by causing her always to be disbelieved. She commonly appears, in tragedy and elsewhere, as forewarning of terrible events, like the evil fate which Paris would bring on Troy or the disasters which the Wooden Horse would cause, but having her warnings unheeded. After the sack of Troy, Cassandra was given to Agamemnon as his concubine, and on his return home Clytemnestra killed them both. There is a memorable scene in Aeschylus' Agamemnon where Cassandra sings of the horrors which have already polluted the house of Atreus and foretells her own death and that of Agamemnon. A favourite scene in Archaic and Classical art is that of Cassandra clutching the image of Athena while Aias seizes her.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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