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by Aeschylus

Agamemnon Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Christopher Collard's translation.

Quote #10

(Chorus to Cassandra): "But I marvel at you: you were born and bred across the sea in a city which has a different language and you hit the mark with what you say, just as if you had been standing by." (Cassandra): "Apollo god of seers set me in this office." (1199-1202)

Now we learn that Cassandra's power of prophecy is a divine gift from the god Apollo. How does this affect our understanding of the theme of learning through suffering? Here's one way of thinking about it. Let's say that prophecy really is a different way of learning which doesn't require that a person have suffered through or experienced what they're learning about. But if prophecy is a gift from the gods that only a few people receive, does that really change anything for the majority of people? If only a slim minority of people are prophets, "Suffer and learn" could still be the rule for most of humanity, right?

Quote #11

(Chorus): "And did the two of you duly come to making a child?"
(Cassandra): "Though I had consented to Loxias, I cheated him."
(Chorus): "Had you already been possessed by the skill the god inspires?"
(Cassandra): "I was already prophesying all their disasters to the citizens."
(Chorus): "So how were you unscathed by Loxias's anger?"
(Cassandra): "I could convince nobody of anything, after I committed that sin against him."
(Chorus): "Yet we at least think that you prophesy convincingly." (1202-1213)

Here's another problem with Cassandra's prophecy: when she refused to sleep with Apollo (after he had already given her the gift of prophecy), he put a curse on her so that nobody would believe her prophecies. But how come the Chorus claims to believe her then? Does this mean that Apollo's curse didn't work? Or is the Chorus just mistaken when they think that they have understood her?

Quote #12

(Cassandra): "And it's all the same if nothing of mine persuades you, of course: the future will come; and you will soon be at my side to pity and call me too true a prophet."
(Chorus): "I understood Thyestes' feast upon his children's flesh, and shuddered, and fear possesses me now I have heard things that truly are no images; but when I listen to the rest, I stumble and run off track."
(Cassandra): "I say that you will look upon the death of Agamemnon."
(Chorus): "Still your tongue, you wretched woman! Say nothing inauspicious!" (1239-1247)

Check this out: Cassandra is able to convince the Chorus of what has already happened (the crime of Atreus), but not of what is about to happen (the death of Agamemnon). What does this say about communication and the theme of learning through suffering?

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