Jonah and Cassandra

Jonah, a prophet in the Bible, and Cassandra, a prophetess in Greek Mythology, are two eastern Mediterranean figures who stand in exact structural opposition to each other: Jonah utters a prophecy that is universally believed and accepted, but does not come true (because the people of Niniveh repent). Cassandra utters a prophecy that is universally disbelieved and rejected, but inexorably comes true. Both end up extremely unhappy.

It has been suggested that perhaps the opposite reactions to their prophetic pronouncements was due to their genders: If Jonah had been a woman, his prophecy would not have been believed. If Cassandra had been a man, the Trojans would have taken notice. Then Troy would have survived, but Niniveh would not.

Niniveh and Troy were both major cities in the Near Eastern cultural area. Many people travelled between the two, as they both were important centers of trade and commerce.


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