"Cassandra -- Apollo’s Revenge"
What is beauty?
Is it a term for all the right measurements of the size of eyes and the distance between such? The high-bridged
nose? The lips? The slender swan-like neck? The proud bosom that promises satisfying fondling for the
allowed male lustful hands and peaceful slumber for the fortunate head? The slimness of waist, tapered legs
and exquisite ankles and soles of feet?
Is it the shyness of maidens, the joy of youth, natural perfume that intoxicates the senses? The cry of gaiety,
the trembling at the abduction of wantonness, or the moans of pain during a virginity lost?
Is it intelligence, quick of wits that send sparkles to the pupils that reflect the brightest starts on a mid-summer
night? Courage in battles like the Amazons who can fight and die as men do, the bodies stripped bare of war
attire, dragged along unceremoniously behind chariots of victors towards an unmarked murky watery grave?
Oh yes, there is beauty in death and destruction too, or rather beauty in beauty being destroyed, like a flower
picked prior its inevitable decay.
Or is beauty is one who possesses divine gift, envied by common men and women, but torturous to the
recipient? Atlas, it is little known to them how heavy such bestowed gift can weigh upon mortal shoulders.
What is such divine ability is given twice, once out of favor, and the other of spite?
What if the aforesaid physical beauty is tied to the blessing and the curse, to one single person, a virgin, a
priestess, a daughter of king?
They address me as a princess, do their curtsies and pay homage as is required by royal protocol. Yet I know
what they say behind my back: a deranged mind, a priestess that has got out of a favor with the god she is
supposed to serve, a black tongue that speaks only of ill-tidings and in rumbling manner that escapes
understanding by anyone.
In their eyes I find their lust for my physical beauty and trepidation for my cursed tongue.
I have foretold the deaths of men and women, some before their natural spans of life are spent, the fall of
powerful rulers and states, calamities people would rather not know about, particularly if they always turned out
to be true.
Miserable am I who always see a future of doom where there is no escape and no matter what warning given, is
always chosen to be ignored. I know why. The only defense they can have against anything inevitable is
simply trying to believe it is not so, that the sayer, not what she says, is doomed.
My father, King Priam of the mighty city of Troy, had named me Cassandra.
I was once his treasured gems. Now, my existence is only tolerated. True, my father and mother have treated
me with parental kindness, as others have treated me according to my station. But I can see through their
minds that they fear me, that I am different to them, so unlike their other children: Hector, who was the pillar of
strength of the city; Paris, the irresistible charm with his handsome face, and strong willed Polyxena, my
“She will bring destruction to Troy!” I once declared openly, my finger pointed accusingly towards the woman
whom Paris brought back from distant Sparta.
I was not listened to.
The Greeks came.
“Hector will perish if he fights Achilles.”
Hector lovingly pat on my shoulder and tried to comfort me, or himself, that I was beguiled.
I saw his body being drawn behind the chariot of the leader of the Myrmidons, and returned after my father
personally went into the tent of the one who killed his heir and pleaded for the return of his mutilated corpse, at
a heavy ransom of gold and Polyxena’s virgin rights.
“The horse smells treachery!”
Then I saw if pulled in. They even knocked down part of the walls that were supposed to given us divine
Oh, why did I not hold my tongue and let them use their senses to think? Did I not remember that Apollo’s wrath
against me, for refusing him, is far from being lifted?
And Troy went up in flames!
Men butchered in their state of stupid carousing after a mock victory; women shrieked as they saw their
husbands, and small children too, cut down in droves without putting up the least resistance.
My mother Hecuba dragged out, her ashen hair disarrayed, her eyes disoriented in shock and despair as her
husband, the king, my father was mercilessly slaughtered, an unarmed old man, broken body and soul over the
fate of his beloved city.
I was no wiser.
In panic I had fled, tried to flee, for the protection of the goddess Athena.
How could I believe the goddess would offer protection to the sister of the slain Paris, who had awarded the
golden apple to her rival Aphrodite and put her to displeasure?
When the city fell, I knew this would be my fate.
He towered over me, clad in the minimal of battle attire, his manhood impatient under the fabric. I made a last
plead for mercy to the tall statute of the goddess, in vain.
In the next moment, my white robe was torn from my torso, my breasts exposed and crushed under a pair of
iron hands, my legs forced wide to expose my protected virginity. What I had declined the Sun God was now
taken with impunity by this man they called Little Ajax. My body was bent backwards on the low altar so that I
could face the mocking stare of the goddess. I knew better to struggle and resigned to my fate.
A princess deflowered, a disobedient priestess paid her price of insubordination. A score settled. The door of a
tragic end open.
I was avenged.
The man who violated me before the sacred altar of Athena met a dire end.
I was allotted to Agamemnon, the leader of the pack.
I witnessed my beloved Polyxena being led like a sacrificial goat towards the grave of the man who had killed my
eldest brother, Hector. Achilles suffered a mortal wound from a poisoned arrow from Paris. Now his son,
Neoptolemus, would claim revenge for his father, demanding the blood of Polyxena to appease a dead man’s
“You will not leave but the rest of us will depart and see Troy no more.” I had told her.
I never knew if my telling this to Polyxena brought her despair or solace.
We were herded separately onto different ships.
I was led to the High King.
The rape that followed was unceremonious. He bored down on me, towering like a huge mountain bear that
was to devour a long lusted after prey, a daughter of Priam, one who was beautiful, and a little mad.
May be I should have fought him, even if the attempt would be futile. Then, at least, I would be defending the
honor of a princess.
I just lay there, limp, resigned.
He moved my limbs into many different positions, to suit his wild taste, to let release his pent up lust and sense
of superiority. This was the apex of his achievement, his prerogative as High King: Troy finally destroyed after
ten years of bitter fighting, his enemy Priam slain and he was now returning to his home Mycenae as a
“You are as beautiful as Iphigenia!” He muttered.
I remained mute, though I knew what he meant.
I had heard the story, how he had to sacrifice his own daughter to the goddess Artemis in order to trade for fair
wind before he departed for Troy.
The slaying had since haunted him. I suspected it was not his remorse of having to put an end to life of one
from his own loins. Rather, it was the very act of the killing, the disrobement by his very hands, the slitting of his
daughter’s throat, watching her heave as life began to ebb away, seeing her bared breasts rise and fall before
all eyes present, his eyes especially, of a father, a king, a man…
The scene must have entered his dreams all these nights. He regretted, not of having killed her, but of not
being able to possess her.
I was to be her replacement.
He made me kneel, my hands clasped behind my back and told my red hair with one hand, gripping a dagger
with the other.
His blade licked my neck and I could feel its coldness against my skin.
“Ah, Cassandra, how does it feel to be in the proximity of death? How would you like to slit your throat as an
I made an empty stare at him.
He could not frighten me for I knew he would not kill me.
No, my death was not yet due though I could foresee it coming.
“The axe has fallen once, it will fall again.” I said.
His brows knitted. My words were troubling him though he could not understand the meaning of them.
“Ah so, ah so.” He released me, sat to one side with his back against a treasure chest filled to the brim with gold
and gems from the coffers of my father.
I laughed, hysterically and his face turned red, then white.
Yes, he hated me and would love to kill me right there and had my body thrown overboard. But he feared me
Besides, I was to be his testimony of victory, a living trophy when he reached home.
We marched through the lion gates, so called because of the motifs that adorned the top of the entrance, up
the winding slopes to the awaiting palace.
His wife, Clytemnestia, was awaiting the returning husband.
She was smiling but I could sense the guile behind the façade.
“The axe has fallen, it will fall again.”
He presented me as his captive, his slave, his would-be concubine.
She eyed me once, jealousy apparent in her eyes as I was more beautiful than she was, and far younger.
“Welcome to Mycenae, Princess Cassandra. I am sure you will find lying here more comfortable than in your
Troy..” She offered.
“A tomb is tomb, be it built with grief, or treachery.”
Her face turned red and in her rage, turned her back to me and led her husband inside.
A bath was ready, the warmth wafting out from the slightly open doors. Queen Clytemnestia was carrying a
blanket. I saw the shadow of another, a man with an axe.
The door was closed.
There was a cry of surprise and a thud.
Then all was silent.
The door was open again.
I took a deep breadth and crossed the threshold.
“An axe had fallen. It would fall again.”
I had learned to become wise. Fate had bound us and it was futile to fight it, or tried to flee.
I stepped into a mist of steam, saw the bath with its thick reddish contents and a naked body, its neck spurting
out hot blood, the man who a few moments ago was a High King, a returning hero, the conqueror of Troy.
I saw her with the bloodied axe.
She had taken it from her lover, determined to be the one who end my life.
It was her revenge, her only way to win back lost pride.
I did not run.
I knelt, calmly undid the knot that kept my robe in place and pulled it down.
I arranged my reddish hair to my front, covering the left side of my breasts.
My neck is small. It needs only one swing of the heavy axe.
I bent forward, making it easy for me.
I closed my eyes and thought how far I had come, from that small temple where I had rejected the advances of
He had demanded a terrible price.
May be now…may be…I will be finally forgiven….
Story Copyright Hitomi Satomi - please do not reprint in any form without the author's permission.
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Comment from: Chris B.
Date: October 10, 2011
Once again we are adorned with a beautiful story. Thanks so much for your writings.
Comment from: Nastassja
Date: October 15, 2011
I love that you return to the classical scene of your first Polyxena story. Are you writing
a series based on the Iliad? That would be incredible. Believe it or not I was one of the
few people in my English class in school who actually loved Homer. Your Cassandra is so
filled with the pathos of the character. So sad, with a noble kind of fatalistic dignity. It's
a beautifully written story. You have so much grace as a writer.
Comment from: Satomi Hitomi
Date: October 15, 2011
Thank you for your nice comments.
I love Homer too, among many things, and its colourful characters always enticed me. Of
course, the range of my subjects is a little wider. So far, I have experimented on people
(all women) from different eras, classical, biblical, modern time, and even fantasies,
both from the East and West. Chris has just put up Salome, another tragic heroine, for
me and I posted two stories on more recent periods, Conversation between a woman and
her executioner (entirely fictional) and The Real case of Mata Hari in the Stories page of
Hope you like them too.