Who are the most important figures in Cassandra's life according to Christa Wolfe's novel?

1 Answer | Add Yours

kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Some of the most important figures in the life of Christa Wolf's protagonist in her historical novel Cassandra are:

Aeneas: "the soul of Troy" in Wolf's depiction of ancient Greece, takes Cassandra as his lover and wins her heart despite her philandering ways;

Priam: the last king of Troy and Cassandra's father, who plays a particularly tragic role in Greek mythology for his weakness as a leader. Priam's marriage to Hecuba, however, results in the births of his favorite sons, Paris and Hector, the latter's corpse being the eventual hostage to which the frail king would be forced to go on his knees to Achilles to ransom the body. As Wolf's Cassandra notes,"He was a special case, and special to me. He crumbled."

Apollo: god of music and prophecy whose gift to Cassandra -- the power of the seer -- would prove true the adage 'be careful for what you wish, for you just might get it.' 

Anchises: Aeneas' father, and the one who would dispatch Cassandra on the mission to retrieve Priam's sister, Hesione, who had been given to the king of Salamis, Telamon, by Heracles upon the sack of Troy. Anchises is the objective, dispassionate figure. Of Anchises, Cassandra would note, "He treated me like a very dear and respected daughter."

Paris: Cassandra's brother, and a major figure not only in her life, but in the entire story of the Trojan Wars. It was, of course, Paris' capture of Helen, wife of Menalaus, king of rival power Sparta, that would set in motion the fatal chain of events. Paris' killing of the mighty Achilles by successfully shooting an arrow into the latter's vulnerable heel would mark the high point of his career as a warrior and the end of his life, as he would, in turn, soon be killed himself.

Penthesilea: the formidable female warrior or, as Cassandra describes her, "the man-killing warrior woman whose dark (and dark skin, courtesy of her Amazonian origins) nature contrasts with that of:

Myrine: Cassandra's soul-mate, who "got into my blood the moment I saw her, bright, daring, ardent beside the dark self-consuming Penthesilea."

These, then, as some of the most important figures in Wolf's novel. All of these figures, and others, have their origins in Greek mythology, to which Wolf gives her own twist in reaction to the historical subordination of women.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,917 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question