In Greek mythology, Cassandra is one of my favourite supporting characters. She’s struggling through a life of prophecy, watching things come true as they happen, and yet no-one believes her when she predicts something. All because she spurned a god’s affection.
Some would probably say that it wasn’t the wisest move to anger a god – in fact I would apply that as a general rule in the mythology, since Greek gods weren’t exactly well-known for being forgiving. And yet, she had the bravery to do something like follow her heart even if she knew she might be punished for it.
My main line of thought when I think of Cassandra tends to centre on the Trojan War. How much exactly did she see with the Sight? Did she know in advance that loved ones would die, or did she manage to blot out the visions? I like to pick this line of thinking apart, taking it very analytically. Was it something she could focus, or, like other literary seers, was she drawn against her control into a vision? Did she reject Apollo knowing he would punish her, and the way in which he would do so or did she just take the gamble?
When thinking of songs to put to the theme, I thought of Cassandra and I thought of Sacred Heart, by The Civil Wars. In French, the song talks about being at a place and waiting on someone to arrive. Waiting on them to show up, even thinking about reasons that the person might not come.
How long was it after she spurned a god that she started waiting for people to believe her? I like to think of her as not a subservient type, brazenly telling someone that misfortune would happen, damn the consequences.
Eventually though, it must’ve worn her down. Eventually, I can imagine her seeing something that’s about to happen and giving up on saying anything, aware that someone wouldn’t welcome the prophecy anyway.
That’s what I want to see in the poems for prophetesses. Show me despondent, unbelieved and ignored prophecies. Create your own with a warning. Tell me about a bold woman who tells people everything they don’t want to hear and add a bit of destiny – but maybe avoid fate. Show me someone bold who makes her own rules, creates her path in life. Depict someone who has foresight, and uses it. Or maybe she doesn’t.