Examine critically the dramatic structure and relevance of the Cassandra scene in the Agamemnon. Cassandra, was a daughter of Hecuba and King Priam, the rulers of Troy during the Trojan War according to Homer’s Iliad. Cassandra was a beautiful young woman, blessed with the gift of prophecy by Apollo, who was infatuated with her. Unfortunately, she shunned Apollo at the last minute and he added a twist to her gift; Cassandra was doomed to tell the truth, but never to be believed.
“I promised consent to Apollo but broke my word… and ever since that fault I could persuade no one.” [Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1208ff.] “Have I missed the mark, or, like true archer, do I strike my quarry? Or am I prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?” [Cassandra.
Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1194] For this reason Cassandra was not believed when, near the end of the Trojan War, she said that there was an armed force hidden in the wooden horse that the Achaeans had abandoned. King Priam did not know what to do with her, so he tried to keep Cassandra locked up and out of the way of the warriors of Troy. When Troy finally fell to the Greek invaders, Cassandra was attacked and supposedly raped by the Greek warrior Ajax of Locris, but eventually avenged by Athena. When Cassandra accompanied the Greek hero Agamemnon as his mistress to his homeland, she was killed by his vengeful wife, Clytaemnestra. Aeschylus’s Agamemnon tells the story of the Greek hero Agamemnon’s fateful return home to Myceneae, where his wife Clytaemnestra waits to kill him.
Cassandra is a powerful figure in this play, foretelling the doom of the hero and herself through visions of a curse upon his household. On his arrival Agamemnon fell victim of a conspiracy conceived by his own wife Clytaemnestra and her lover Aegisthus, who murdered both Agamemnon and Cassandra. This too Cassandra predicted: “…
for me waits destruction by the two-edged sword.” [Cassandra. Aeschylus, Agamem.