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Prologue: the Walls of Troy
A Teacher explains the origins of the war to a skeptical Pupil and other Trojans.
Act I: Troy
Cassandra reflects glumly on the marriage of her brother Paris. Her friends Brie and Chris arrive to cheer her up. They ask her to entertain them with her prophetic visions, which they (and the larger community) find laughable. Much to her annoyance, the community believes the identical prophecies when they are delivered by Cassandra’s twin brother, Helenus, who conveniently omits the negative events that are to come. Cassandra’s mother, Queen Hecuba, urges Cassandra to be less strident, less impolitic, in her prophecies. Encouraged by Helenus, the community makes a ritual procession to ask the gods for victory in war — a victory that Cassandra knows will never come.
After the fall of Troy, Cassandra is a captive on a ship commanded by the Greek warrior Agamemnon. She mourns for the lost Troy of her childhood, a city that no one will ever see again. Taunted by Agamemnon, she sees visions of Brie, Chris, and Hecuba, who have been dispersed among other war refugees. She is inspired by their spirit of defiance. Cassandra foresees that Agamemnon is fated to be murdered by his wife upon their arrival in Greece. Realizing that Agamemnon will not believe her prophecies, she begs him strategically to turn the ship around. He responds by accelerating towards home port, unknowingly hastening his own death.