Cassandra Was a Woman

Adam Cohen writes in today’s New York Times that ours is becoming an age of Cassandras—voices raised to warn of impending disasters that are doomed to be ignored. Clearly there’s a strong element of this in the unfolding financial crisis, but Cohen neglects to note s key fact: that the Cassandra role has traditionally been played by women.

As Julie Johnson and I note in our forthcoming book, “The Female Vision”, Cassandra was known in the Classical world as the “cursed prophetess”. She foresaw the destruction of her home country Troy, but was unable to get anyone (including her father, the King) to pay attention.

In the world of myth, Cassandra set a template for women’s best observations being overlooked and undervalued. We’ve seen that play out over several millennia since. And certainly in the present crisis, women played a particularly impressive role in articulating how a system was about to collapse!

I like that Cohen put the analogy out there into the world, but do also wish he’d mentioned the very important point, that Cassandra was most definitely a woman!

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