“His fire! – sears me, sweeps me again – the torture!
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Apollo Lord of the Light, you burn, you blind me – Agony!”
Cassandra in The Oresteia has already suffered very much for betraying Apollo and allowing herself to be kidnapped and raped by Agamemnon. Her punishment for her lies to the god are that all her predictions will be true, but nobody will ever believe them.
Apollo was a great god, and his oracles were powerful. Apollo fell in love with Cassandra when she was very young and her gave her the gift of prophesy and made her his priestess.
Cassandra did not return the love of Apollo, but became his priestess anyway. But she broke this promise when she allowed herself to be taken by Agamemnon, and Apollo cursed her by making it so that nobody would ever believe her prophesies.
These stories which the Greek authors wrote about are really quite a confusing long list of sins and revenge. I read a lot of different versions as I tried to get some background on this. Robert Fagles (2009) was the most interesting and informative in his introduction to the reading of his translation of the plays.
Oracles were really important to the ancient Greeks. Many plays were written about what the oracles predicted and what men did about it.
One case is Oedipus, the King. Oedipus, as was usual, was born cursed, because his father was cursed, because his father was cursed.
He killed his father because he had to prove his superiority. Oedipus continues on to Thebes and marries Laius’s widow, his own mother, and fathers children by her.
At the end of the play, Oedipus is a blind beggar wandering in the wilderness, his wife is dead and his children are cursed.
Greeks had a rather strange relationship with their gods. They saw the gods as immortal humans with lots of power. They did not see them as especially wise and certainly not as forgiving. They are afraid of them, but they also laugh at them.
Greek life seems to have revolved around the beliefs in gods and goddesses who were powerful and immortal.
The Greeks believed that the gods could do wonderful or terrible things, depending upon how they liked you.