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Why Did Apollo Curse Cassandra?

By Andy Watkins


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“Cassandra’s Curse” is a phrase sometimes still used today in the psychiatry field, referring to the belief that psychiatrists can read their patients’ minds while also being unreliable at predicting tragedies. However, many people don’t know the origin of this curse or why Apollo cursed Cassandra.

Apollo cursed Cassandra because she shunned him. Despite giving her the gift of prophecy in exchange for her love, to which she agreed, Cassandra went back on her word. That caused Apollo to curse her by forcing her accurate predictions never to be believed.

Keep reading as I explain who each of these mythological figures are and how they relate to one another.

Why Apollo Cursed Cassandra

Cassandra, a mortal princess, was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. She was one of the most beautiful women in all of Troy. Cassandra was a priestess at one of Apollo’s most sacred temples, and when Apollo saw the beauty, he fell madly in love with her.

Apollo gave Cassandra the gift of seeing the future as a prophetess in an attempt to woo her. However, when Cassandra refused Apollo, he cursed her so that no one would believe her accurate prophecies.

Cassandra was forced only to speak the truth, which only added to the frustrations of her curse. However, according to Aeschylus, Cassandra acknowledged that the curse was her fault because she consented to marry Apollo but then went back on her word. 

Who Was Apollo?

Apollo, a Greek god, was the son of Zeus and Leto. He was said to have been the ideal of male beauty and was the most beloved of the Olympian gods. Apollo is associated with music, youth, and the arts. He was also a bright and powerful entity.

Apollo had a twin brother, Artemis. He is often famously depicted with his bow, which was given to him by the craftsman of Mount Olympus. Despite being told by Zeus to stay out of mortal affairs, Apollo often meddled in the Trojan war on behalf of the Trojans.

However, Apollo was also famously vengeful, known to hold a grudge and dole out punishment for misdeeds. He brought a plague upon the Greek soldiers to punish Agamemnon during the war. He also had the satyr Marsyas flayed and nailed his skin to a tree as punishment for claiming that his musical talent was superior to Apollo’s. 

Who Was Cassandra?

Cassandra, a mortal princess, was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. She was one of the most beautiful women in all of Troy. Cassandra was a priestess at one of Apollo’s most sacred temples, and when Apollo saw the beauty, he fell madly in love with her.

Though Apollo gifted Cassandra with the gift of seeing the future, he also cursed her by ensuring that no one would believe her prophecies. 

For example, when soldiers brought the Trojan horse forth to the city’s gates, Cassandra foresaw Troy’s destruction and tried to warn the people not to bring the horse inside. No one believed her, and we all know the outcome of that tragic tale.


Apollo and Cassandra were both known for their beauty. When Apollo saw Cassandra, he fell madly in love and offered her the gift of prophecy to win her affection. 

When Cassandra did not return the love to Apollo, he cursed her by making it so no one would ever believe her predictions. In medicine, especially psychiatry, “Cassandra’s Curse” is still a phrase used today.

About Andy Watkins

I have always been interested in mythology. From a very early age in Britain, I was known to sit at the breakfast table reading encyclopedias about many of the major world mythologies. Learn more about MythNerd's Editorial Process.

1 thought on “Why Did Apollo Curse Cassandra?”

  1. Hello,
    Thank you for the article. I can’t find the comments so my apologies if someone has mentioned this before. It is well intended.
    Apollo , is quite an important God. ( You used the word “entity”. I think perhaps you mean “Deity “, which is the actual word for God/ess. Chiefly, he is the god of the Sun.
    A big deal.

    Secondly- and very, very importantly: Artemis is Apollo’s twin SISTER. Not brother. Mirroring Apollo, she is the Goddess of the Moon. Being gifted by Zeus with eternal youth, a band of nymphs as companions and the promise of never having to marry, she finally asks Zeus for a bow and arrows so she may hunt with her dear twin brother Apollo. She is also the protector of animals and protected them.

    I do mean this out of kindness but I’m taking a leap and guessing you compiled your “information” solely from the internet.
    Which, as a professor, I know, is the most unreliable source of information. My suggestion is to hit the books, and use the bibliography of a book to guide you to another written sources. If you’re putting stuff up here here, you have a responsibility to make sure it’s accurate. Kids will read it.
    I truly admire your work. This is cool site and I can see how hard you have worked. Just hit the books. Start with reading the Iliad and the Odyssey and I suggest you question the actual myths themselves.

    In particular, the validity of Demeter and Persephone. This was a re- written myth that was originally connected to a 200 year old coming of age ritual.
    And Athena did not pop from anyone’s head. You must go back centuries and visit the island of Crete.
    Good luck.
    Keep it up!


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