An Improper Proposal? No Bridegifts for Kassandra

Schol. bT ad Il. 365-6 ex

“He was asking to marry the most beautiful of Priam’s daughters without a bridegift”

This is also foreign. For we can find no place in Greece where they go to war for pay and posit before that they will not be allies without a contract. Also, consider the payment. For he came, asking for the girl, not because she was royal, but because she was the most beautiful. Certainly the most intemperate suitors among the Greeks “strive because of [her] excellence” [Od 2.366] But “without bridegifts” [Il.13.366] is cheap: even the most unjust suitors offer bridegifts to Penelope.”

ex. ᾔτεε δὲ Πριάμοιο <θυγατρῶν εἶδος ἀρίστην / Κασσάνδρην ἀνάεδνον>: βαρβαρικὸν καὶ τοῦτο· οὐδέποτε γὰρ εὑρήσομεν παρ’ ῞Ελλησι τὸ ἐπὶ μισθῷ στρατεύειν καὶ πρότερον αἰτεῖν καὶ χωρὶς ὑποσχέσεως μὴ συμμαχεῖν. ὅρα δὲ καὶ τὸν μισθόν· κόρης γὰρ ἐρῶν ἧκεν, οὐχ ὅτι βασιλική, ἀλλ’ ὅτι εἶδος ἀρίστη. καίτοι παρ’ ῞Ελλησιν οἱ ἀκολαστότατοι μνηστῆρές φασιν „εἵνεκα τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐριδαίνομεν” (β 206). καὶ τὸ ἀνάεδνον (366) γλίσχρον, ὅπου γε οἱ ἀδικώτατοι μνηστῆρες ἕδνα τῇ Πηνελόπῃ προσφέρουσιν.

Iliad 13 (361–369):

“There, though his hair was partly grey, Idomeneus called
Out to the Danaans and drove the Trojans to retreat as he leapt.
For he killed Othryoneus who was there from Kabesos—
He had just arrived in search of the fame of war.
He asked for the most beautiful of Priam’s daughter’s
Kassandra, without a marriage-price, and he promised a great deed,
That he would drive the sons of the Achaians from Troy unwilling.
Old Priam promised this to him and nodded his head
That he would do this. Confident in these promises, he rushed forth.”

῎Ενθα μεσαιπόλιός περ ἐὼν Δαναοῖσι κελεύσας
᾿Ιδομενεὺς Τρώεσσι μετάλμενος ἐν φόβον ὦρσε.
πέφνε γὰρ ᾿Οθρυονῆα Καβησόθεν ἔνδον ἐόντα,
ὅς ῥα νέον πολέμοιο μετὰ κλέος εἰληλούθει,
ᾔτεε δὲ Πριάμοιο θυγατρῶν εἶδος ἀρίστην
Κασσάνδρην ἀνάεδνον, ὑπέσχετο δὲ μέγα ἔργον,
ἐκ Τροίης ἀέκοντας ἀπωσέμεν υἷας ᾿Αχαιῶν.
τῷ δ’ ὁ γέρων Πρίαμος ὑπό τ’ ἔσχετο καὶ κατένευσε
δωσέμεναι· ὃ δὲ μάρναθ’ ὑποσχεσίῃσι πιθήσας.

Image result for Ancient Greek Cassandra vase

Agamemnon makes a similar promise to Achilles in book 9.145–6=287–8 (Χρυσόθεμις καὶ Λαοδίκη καὶ ᾿Ιφιάνασσα, / τάων ἥν κ’ ἐθέλῃσι φίλην ἀνάεδνον ἀγέσθω; offering any of three daughters without a bride gift). When Apollo is described as taking Stratonikê thus at Hes. Fr. 26.23 (βῆ δὲ φέ[ρ]ων ἀνάε̣[δ]ν̣[ον ἐύζωνον ]Στ[ρ]α̣[τ]ον̣ί̣κ̣ην) it would be fair to say that the ‘extra-ritual’ act is clearly rape.

Here’s Beekes:

hedna

Posts on Myth from Women’s History Month

Euripides,  Fr. 464

“Get married already, get married, and then die
Either by poison or a trick from your wife.”

γαμεῖτε νῦν, γαμεῖτε, κᾆτα θνῄσκετε
ἢ φαρμάκοισιν ἐκ γυναικὸς ἢ δόλοις.

Euripides, fr. 320 (Danae)

“There is neither fortress nor fortune
Nor anything else as hard to guard as a woman.”

οὐκ ἔστιν οὔτε τεῖχος οὔτε χρήματα
οὔτ’ ἄλλο δυσφύλακτον οὐδὲν ὡς γυνή.

Anacreontea, 24.8-13

Nature gave bulls horns
Hooves to horses
Swift feet to hares
A mouth of teeth to lions
Swimming to fish
Flight to birds
And wisdom to men.
What did nature give to women?
Beauty
stronger than all shields and spears.
A woman who is beautiful
conquers both iron and fire.

Φύσις κέρατα ταύροις,
ὁπλὰς δ’ ἔδωκεν ἵπποις,
ποδωκίην λαγωοῖς,
λέουσι χάσμ’ ὀδόντων,
τοῖς ἰχθύσιν τὸ νηκτόν,
τοῖς ὀρνέοις πέτασθαι,
τοῖς ἀνδράσιν φρόνημα·
γυναιξὶν οὐν ἔτ᾿ εἶχεν
τί οὖν; δίδωσι κάλλος
ἀντ᾿ ἀσπίδων ἁπασῶν
ἀντ᾿ ἐγχέων ἁπάντων
νικᾷ δὲ καὶ σίδηρον
καὶ πῦρ καλή τις οὖσα

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.1192-1200: Sometimes Women Don’t Fake It

“A woman doesn’t always gasp with counterfeit passion
when she joins her body in embrace with a man
and holds his lips with a drawn, moist kiss.
Often she acts from her spirit and as she seeks shared happiness,
she incites him to race through the course of his love.”

Nec mulier semper ficto suspirat amore,
quae conplexa viri corpus cum corpore iungit
et tenet adsuctis umectans oscula labris;
nam facit ex animo saepe et communia quaerens
gaudia sollicitat spatium decurrere amoris.

This past month I made a special effort to post new material featuring women from Greek myth.  The results have been less than happy but have confirmed (even exacerbated) my general opinion about the tales Greeks and Romans told about women: by and large, they are terrible. This fact has always made me go through contortions to say something nice about Greek and Roman stories on women, but it is increasingly obvious that I should just give up any type of apologetics and tell students the truth: ancient myth is filled with repugnant tales that communicate and reinforce not just negative attitudes about women, but perspectives that justify and even valorize their treatments as objects and general dehumanization.

Here’s a recap of the month’s tales.

Pausanias records that Medusa may have just been a pretty woman  Perseus killed so he could take her head back and show it to his friends.

Medusa

Apollo, as many know, cursed Kassandra for not having sex with him. When she got to the Peloponnese, Aigisthos slaughtered the twins she bore to her captor Agamemnon and then Klytemnestra killed her too (so the women here either are a victim of rape, torture and murder or else guilty of murder). Shoot, even before that happened, Kassandra was dangled as a bride to help secure allies in the fight against the Greeks.

 

Things weren’t much better for her mother Hecuba who, according to some accounts, was awarded to Odysseus after the end of the war.  He had her killed by stoning when she complained to much (and after she was turned into a dog).

Polyxena

I know everyone wants to blame the Trojan War on Helen, but according to the Argives she was abducted as a child,raped by Theseus and gave her child to Klytemnestra who raised her as her own.  That child? Iphigenia. Agamemnon had to kill her so that the Greeks could find their way to Troy.

I tried to make things a little better–I found a story where Zeus is actually in love with Hera and turns into a cuckoo bird. There’s also the tale of the warrior-poet Telesilla who saves her city from the Spartans (but only because they won’t fight ladies).

The most depressing tale of all, however, features a nameless woman. In the following tale, the foreignness and gender of a woman lets the sailors just sacrifice her to save their own skins:

 

Pausanias, 1.23.5

“Because I wished to know more than another about Satyrs—who they are—I traveled to many men for stories of them. The Carian Euphemus told me that once while sailing to Italy he was led off his course by the winds and into the sea beyond in which others do not sail. He was claiming that many islands there are empty but that in others savage men live. His sailors did not want to land on those islands because, those who had landed there before had gained some knowledge of the population; but at this time, again, they were forced. According to Euphemos the islands are called Satyrides by the sailors: the people who live there have red-hair, are not much taller than horses, and have tails on their rear-ends. As soon as they noticed that the sailors were coming, they rushed toward the ship without making a noise and attacked the women on it. Finally, out of fear, the sailors threw a foreign woman overboard. The Satyrs violated her not only in the regular way but using her entire body as well.”

περὶ δὲ Σατύρων, οἵτινές εἰσιν, ἑτέρου πλέον ἐθέλων ἐπίστασθαι πολλοῖς αὐτῶν τούτων ἕνεκα ἐς λόγους ἦλθον. ἔφη δὲ Εὔφημος Κὰρ ἀνὴρ πλέων ἐς᾿Ιταλίαν ἁμαρτεῖν ὑπὸ ἀνέμων τοῦ πλοῦ καὶ ἐς τὴν ἔξω θάλασσαν, ἐς ἣν οὐκέτι πλέουσιν, ἐξενεχθῆναι. νήσους δὲ εἶναι μὲν ἔλεγεν ἐρήμους πολλάς, ἐν δὲ ἄλλαιςοἰκεῖν ἄνδρας ἀγρίους· ταύταις δὲ οὐκ ἐθέλειν νήσοις προσίσχειν τοὺς ναύτας οἷα πρότερόν τε προσσχόντας καὶ τῶν ἐνοικούντων οὐκ ἀπείρως ἔχοντας, βιασθῆναι δ’οὖν καὶ τότε. ταύτας καλεῖσθαι μὲν ὑπὸ τῶν ναυτῶν Σατυρίδας, εἶναι δὲ τοὺς ἐνοικοῦντας [καὶ] καπυροὺς καὶ ἵππων οὐ πολὺ μείους ἔχειν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἰσχίοις οὐράς.τούτους, ὡς ᾔσθοντο, καταδραμόντας ἐπὶ τὴν ναῦν φωνὴν μὲν οὐδεμίαν ἱέναι, ταῖς δὲ γυναιξὶν ἐπιχειρεῖν ταῖς ἐν τῇ νηί· τέλος δὲ δείσαντας τοὺς ναύτας βάρβαρον γυναῖκα ἐκβαλεῖν ἐς τὴν νῆσον· ἐς ταύτην οὖν ὑβρίζειν τοὺς Σατύρους οὐ μόνον ᾗ καθέστηκεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ πᾶν ὁμοίως σῶμα.

I can always try to cherry-pick anecdotes like those of Aspasia–who allegedly taught Socrates rhetoric–or emphasize the beauty of Sappho’s poetry. We can expatiate all we want on the power of Greek and Roman love poetry. But the truth is, the Romans and Greeks function much better as examples to avoid.

Often Engaged, but Never a Bride: Kassandra

Hesychius: “Kassandra: Alexandra in Lakedaimonia”

Κασσάνδρα· ᾿Αλεξάνδρα ἐν Λακεδαιμονίᾳ

 

Earlier I posted some etymologies for Kassandra. Her name appears on ceramic fragments in Lakonia where, according to some, she was worshiped before Agamemnon and that he received cult-rites because of his connection with her.  There are also suggestions that her name in Sparta, rather than meaning “defender of men” as Aleks-andros is usually identified, was understood as “defender-against-men”, marking out her ability to resist marriage.  In this capacity, she may have been a patron heroine of unwed girls looking to avoid marriage.

Echoes of Kassandra as someone often sought but never married appear as early as Homer and as late as Pausanias. The three potential bridegrooms below do not,of course, include her rapist Ajax son of Oileus or her temporary ‘owner’, Agamemnon (with whom some allege she bore twins).
Homer, Il. 13.361-369

“There, though his hair was partly grey, Idomeneus called
Out to the Danaans and drove the Trojans to retreat as he leapt.
For he killed Othryoneus who was there from Kabesos—
He had just arrived in search of the fame of war.
He asked for the most beautiful of Priam’s daughter’s
Kassandra, without a marriage-price, and he promised a great deed,
That he would drive the sons of the Achaians from Troy unwilling.
Old Priam promised this to him and nodded his head
That he would do this. Confident in these promises, he rushed forth.”

῎Ενθα μεσαιπόλιός περ ἐὼν Δαναοῖσι κελεύσας
᾿Ιδομενεὺς Τρώεσσι μετάλμενος ἐν φόβον ὦρσε.
πέφνε γὰρ ᾿Οθρυονῆα Καβησόθεν ἔνδον ἐόντα,
ὅς ῥα νέον πολέμοιο μετὰ κλέος εἰληλούθει,
ᾔτεε δὲ Πριάμοιο θυγατρῶν εἶδος ἀρίστην
Κασσάνδρην ἀνάεδνον, ὑπέσχετο δὲ μέγα ἔργον,
ἐκ Τροίης ἀέκοντας ἀπωσέμεν υἷας ᾿Αχαιῶν.
τῷ δ’ ὁ γέρων Πρίαμος ὑπό τ’ ἔσχετο καὶ κατένευσε
δωσέμεναι· ὃ δὲ μάρναθ’ ὑποσχεσίῃσι πιθήσας.

 

Pausanias 10.27.1-2 (see Benarbe Il. Parvae 15)

“Koroibos came to seek a marriage with Kassandra, but he died. According to a greater tale, she was taken by Neoptolemus; but Lesches gave her to Diomedes.”
ἀφίκετο μὲν δὴ ἐπὶ τὸν Κασσάνδρας ὁ Κόροιβος γάμον, ἀπέθανε δέ, ὡς μὲν ὁ πλείων λόγος, ὑπὸ Νεοπτολέμου, Λέσχεως δὲ ὑπὸ Διομήδους ἐποίησεν.

 

Alcimadas, Rhetor fr. 16.72-7 (4th Century BCE) This is an imagined speech performed by Odysseus prosecuting Palamedes. In myth, it was Palamedes who revealed that Odysseus was just pretending to be crazy to avoid going to war. Odysseus held a grudge and framed Palamedes as a traitor when they arrived in Troy by planting gold and a letter in his dwelling.

“After calling Sthenelos and Diomedes to witness, I was showing them the contents. The letter clearly said these things:

“Alexandros [writes] to Palamedes. You will have all the things promised to Telephos and my father will give you Kasandra as a wife, just as you asked. But do those things you offered quickly.”

These were the things which were written, and when you approached me and witnessed it you took the bow.”

πράγματι, προσκαλεσάμενος Σθένελόν τε καὶ Διομήδη ἐδείκνυον αὐτοῖς τὰ ἐνόντα. ἡ δὲ γραφὴ ἐδήλου τάδε· ‘᾿Αλέξανδρος Παλαμήδει. ὅσα συνέθου Τηλέφῳ, πάντα σοι ἔσται, ὅ τε πατὴρ Κασάνδραν γυναῖκα δίδωσί σοι, καθάπερ ἐπέστειλας· ἀλλὰ τὰ ἀπὸ σοῦ πραττέσθω διὰ τάχους.’ ἐνεγέγραπτο μὲν ταῦτα· καί μοι προσελθόντες μαρτυρήσατε οἱ λαβόντες τὸ τόξευμα.

Kassandra
Though the story is old, Homer does not mention the rape…

More Byzantine Etymologies: Kas(s)andra

 

From the introduction to the Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra by John Tzetzes and his brother Isaac:

“That is a sufficient beginning. Let us talk now about the title. Why did Lykophron call this poem the Alexandra? It stands apart from the rest of his collective writings. For I said before that he wrote many plays in the tragic form. The name Kasandra is said to derive from “manly helmet” [kasis + anêr] Hektor has—and is written in the Aeolic dialect with two sigmas. Alexandra is from avoiding or fleeing the company of men [aluksô+andras] or otherwise from warding off and helping men [aleksô+andras] and human beings through oracles. But these things are rather [cold?]; still, we have to record them because there are fools who are at a loss about these trifles. Here’s another: what is the reason that he is called Lykophron? They say it is because he is riddling and cunning; wolves are also wise, you see.”

᾿Αλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν ἀρκούντως ἐρρέθη, λέξωμεν δὲ καὶ  περὶ τῆς ἐπιγραφῆς· διὰ τί Λυκόφρονος ᾿Αλεξάνδρα ἐπεγράφη τὸ παρὸν ποίημα; πρὸς ἀντιδιαστολὴν τῶν λοιπῶν τοῦ Λυκόφρονος συγγραμμάτων· εἶπον γὰρ ὅτι ξδ′ ἢ μϚ′ τραγωδιῶν ἐποίησε δράματα. Κασάνδρα δὲ λέγεται παρὰ τὸ κάσιν ἀνδρεῖον ἔχειν τὸν ῞Εκτορα αἰολικῶς δὲ γράφεται διὰ δύο ςσ ᾿Αλεξάνδρα δὲ ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἀλύξαι καὶ ἐκφυγεῖν τὴν τῶν ἀνδρῶν συνουσίαν ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἀλέξειν καὶ βοηθεῖν τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἤτοι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις διὰ τῶν χρησμῶν. ταῦτα δὲ καὶ ψυχρά εἰσιν, ὅμως διά τινας τῶν μωρῶν τῶν τοιαῦτα λῆρα ἀπορούντων γραπτέον καὶ ταῦτα. *ὡς* καὶ τὸ διὰ τί λέγεται Λυκόφρων; διὰ τὸ αἰνιγματωδῶς καὶ πανούργως λέγειν· καὶ γὰρ οἱ λύκοι πανοῦργοι.Cassandra

A Less Well-Known Start for Cassandra’s Prophetic Power

[From the Introduction to the Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra]

“A summary is as follows. Priam, the son of Leukippê and Laomedon, fathered twin children with Hekabê, the daughter of Dumas or Kisseus, Kasandra [and Alexandra] and Helenos, whom they took to the shrine of Helian Apollo in Thumbraion where they made the sacrifices for the occasion of their birth. After they drank together and celebrated all day in the temple, by nightfall they returned to the city and the palace, secretly leaving their children behind them in the temple, something they did (as far as I can see) according to custom to discover this: so they might know from the events what kind of people their children would be. [In the same way, at any rate, had those people around Priam done this concerning what was fated]. When they approached the temple on the next day, they discovered two snakes watching over their children and [purifying their senses?]. but they were not harming them at all.”

ἡ δὲ ὑπόθεσίς ἐστι τοιαύτη· Πρίαμος ὁ Λευκίππης καὶ Λαομέδοντος ἐξ ῾Εκάβης τῆς Δύμαντος ἢ τῆς Κισσέως θυγατρὸς διδύμους παῖδας γεννᾷ, Κασάνδραν τὴν καὶ ᾿Αλεξάνδραν T καὶ ῞Ελενον, οὓς ἐν τῷ τοῦ Θυμβραίου ναῷ ῾Ηλίου ᾿Απόλλωνος ἐκόμισαν, καὶ τὰ τούτων ἐτέλει γενέθλια. συμποσιάσαντες δὲ καὶ κωμάσαντες πανημερίως ἐν τῷ ναῷ περὶ ἑσπέραν πρὸς τὴν πόλιν καὶ τὰ ἀνάκτορα ὑπεχώρησαν λήθῃ κατά τινας ἐάσαντες τοὺς παῖδας ἐν τῷ ναῷ κατ’ ἐμὲ δὲ οἰκείᾳ γνώμῃ τοῦτο σκοποῦντες ἐξ ἔθους *κρατοῦντος* ἐποίησαν· ἔκ τινων γὰρ συμβάντων ἐπεγίνωσκον ὁποῖοί τινες ἀπο-βαῖεν οἱ παῖδες. οὕτω γοῦν καὶ οἱ περὶ Πρίαμον περὶ τοὺς εἰρημένους ἐποίησαν. T τῇ ἐπαύριον δὲ τῷ ναῷ προσελθόντες β′ ὄφεις ἐπῃωρημένους τοῖς παισὶν εὗρον καὶ τὰ αἰσθητήρια τούτων καθαίροντας, μηδὲν δὲ λυμαινομένους αὐτούς.

Cassandra
Whatever the start, the end is not good for Cassandra

The end of the introduction (likely another author) provides a summary of the more common account:

“The myth is this: Apollo lusted after Kasandra and pursued her. She was caught by him and asked if he would give her the power of prophecy if she promised to marry him. The god made his promise, but she had deceived him about the marriage.  This is why the god got angry and when he could not withdraw the prophetic power because it was a divine gift, he made her disbelieved when she prophesied true things—she seemed like she was mad!”

ἡ δὲ ἱστορία τοιαύτη· ᾿Απόλλων ἐρασθεὶς Κασάνδρας ἐδίωκεν αὐτήν. αὕτη δὲ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ καταλαμβανομένη †T ᾐτήσατο, ἵνα δῷ αὐτῇ τὴν μαντικήν, ὑποσχομένη τὸν γάμον· τοῦ δὲ θεοῦ παρασχόντος τοὺς γάμους αὐτῷ διεψεύσατο, ὅθεν ὀργισθεὶς ὁ θεὸς τὴν μαντικὴν *ὡς* θεῖον οὖσαν δῶρον ἀπ’ αὐτῆς οὐκ ἀφείλατο, ἀπιστεῖσθαι δὲ αὐτὴν ἐποίησε μαντευομένην τὰ ἀληθῆ καὶ ὡς μαινομένην ἡγεῖσθαι.