Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros118Dictionnaire testimonial et mémorielCassandra

Dictionnaire testimonial et mémoriel


Véronique Léonard-Roques
Traduction de Sarah Voke
p. 186-187
Cet article est une traduction de :
Cassandre [fr]

Texte intégral

1Cassandra, daughter of king Priam, briefly appears in Homer’s Iliad. From atop the high walls of Troy, she shouts to her compatriots to call them to express their grief after Hector returns dead. Her tragic and lyrical potential is developed later, in the tragedies. As a prophet inspired by Apollo (from the Agamemnon by Aeschylus) and through the good use of her reason (in many modern versions), she becomes a figure of inaudible knowledge. Though no one believes her, she announces the eradication of her city and the horrors of the war. A slave deported to Mycenae and the last witness of the disaster, she embodies the fall of Troy through the reversal of her situation, her solitude and her tragic end (she is killed by Clytemnestra). Ahead of her time, her position as a visionary allows her even to bear witness to a past that is not personal to her. Indeed, in the tradition of Aeschylus, she recalls the crimes buried at the origin of the curse of the Atreids which the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra and the matricide by Orestes once again make new. Underlining how “the prediction of the future is inseparable from the past, so of memory” (Romain Racine), Cassandra is a figure of words that resist being forgotten.



© All rights reserved.

2From Aeschylus to Christa Wolf, she functions in the face of official History as a figure haunted by the transmission of the memory of the defeated. It is particularly in the light of the question of testimony that the foreigner, the “barbarian”, measures the so called “civilisation” of the winners. With Aeschylus, in the guise of a gift of hospitality, Cassandra asks the chorus to transmit her memory, which no one will do in the rest of the play or the trilogy. “The Trojan poet is dead… The word belongs to the Greek poet”, Giraudoux’s protagonist declares in the final line of The Trojan War Will Not Take Place. In the face of the epic tradition that is an authority among the literary canon (the “river of epic poems”), Wolf aims to make the point of view of the defeated be heard in a narrative (“this tiny stream”) that distinguishes itself from institutionalised genres, desecrates heroic values and of which Cassandra, having become an eponymous heroine, is the narrator.

3The identity of this figure, her own mythological agenda, refers to some of the very properties of the myth, a profoundly memorial matter in its own right. An “inventive memory” (Marcel Detienne), a myth merely exists through its reception, offering a collective symbolizing tool particularly apt to bear witness to violences.

Haut de page


Goudot, Marie (ed.), Cassandre, Paris: Autrement, 1999.

Léonard-Roques, Véronique & Mesnard, Philippe (eds.), Cassandre, figure du témoignage et de transmission mémorielle, Paris: Kimé. Expected publication: 2015.

Racine, Romain, “Cassandre”, in Pierre Brunel (ed.), Dictionnaire des mythes féminins, Monaco: Rocher, 2002.

Schérer, René, Zeus hospitalier: Éloge de l’hospitalité, Paris: Armand Colin, 1993.

Wolf, Christa, Cassandra, Trans. Jan van Heurck, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Cassandra.
Crédits © All rights reserved.
Fichier image/jpeg, 220k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Véronique Léonard-Roques, « Cassandra »Témoigner. Entre histoire et mémoire, 118 | 2014, 186-187.

Référence électronique

Véronique Léonard-Roques, « Cassandra »Témoigner. Entre histoire et mémoire [En ligne], 118 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 octobre 2015, consulté le 20 avril 2021. URL : ; DOI :

Haut de page


Véronique Léonard-Roques

University Blaise Pascal – CELIS EA 1002. Clermont-Ferrand.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Tous droits réservés

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search