notes on the siege of Troy- part 3

Cassandra‘s lesson

Cassandra, one of the daughters of King Priam of Troy was a celebrated beauty. While not in Helen’s class(who was?) the God Apollo fell in love with her. He gave her the gift of prophecy as a token of his affection. Then, he wanted to mate with her. But Cassandra refused. In the myth, no reason was given for her refusal. Apollo could not take back his gift but he put a curse on her such that though she prophesied correctly no one would listen to her or believe anything she said. When Helen and Paris returned to Troy she started to scream “death death death get them out of here they are death”. When she saw the Trojan horse she made the same exclamation. But no one listened to her. Later as a captive in king Agamemnon‘s court she correctly foretold his murder by his wife. Again no one listened to her.

As with all the Greek myths the meaning here is much deeper than some event that happened a few thousand years ago. It is extremely relevant to today. When you deny the divine there is a price to be paid. There are consequences. In a sense, in our own small way we are all Cassandra’s. In the every day affairs of life there is a tendency to deny the divinity. There is always a cost to this. It’s not that the divinity, or Apollo, places some curse, but the act of denial itself creates the misfortune. We see this in another way when Menelaus is needlessly delayed for years on his return from Troy (he almost didn’t make it). He has many adventures with Proteus who finally tells him that the reason for all these delays was that he did not give proper honor to the gods. When Menelaus hears this he promptly makes the appropriate sacrifice to the gods and he sails merrily on his way. In modern life we are doing this all the time. There is a headache and the person says oh I am sick or there is some financial problem and the person says I am poor. Little does he or she realize that he is taking the name of God in vain and dishonouring the divine power. Healing often comes but through many delays, many of them needless.

Brains not Brawn conquer the city

Odysseus was a formidable warrior, but he was not in the class of some of the other Greek heroes such as Achilles or Ajax, the son of Telemon. Yet it was not Achilles or Ajax or any of the other mighty warriors that conquered Troy. It was Odysseus who conquered it by a stratagem, the Trojan horse. For 10 years the mightiest Greek heroes could not take the city. Odysseus did it in one night. There are two messages to take from this that apply to us today. Physical strength is important but brains are more important. Lesson two, One inspired idea is worth 10 years of hard labor.