Date of Award

Spring 6-7-2019

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Chris Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Owen Ewald

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Doug Thorpe


Cassandra, translation, woman translator, survivors, feminist readings of myth


This paper investigates two major characterizations of the mythological figure Cassandra, reading her in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Seneca’s Agamemnon as a woman truth-teller and translator. It develops a notion of translation as negotiation of discursive space and breaking open of boundaries, including boundaries between pairs of languages, experiences, times, and places. This sense of translation draws on the reception theory of Charles Martindale and privileges the discursive location of the translator as integral to their translation; a specifically female translator occupies different discursive spaces than her male counterpart due to the social experience of gender. In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Cassandra’s speaks previously unspeakable acts of violence undergirding the Atreid house and breaks open conventional language with translational strategies. In Seneca’s Agamemnon, Cassandra translates the moral chaos and violence around her into a new moral order of equilibrium; she translates by a re-vision of her surroundings that reverses power dynamics. Finally, a coda studies alternative appearances of Cassandra as truth-teller and translator in survivors of sexual assault and in the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene. Survivors empowered by #MeToo break open the boundaries of normalized violence within the patriarchy and bring the unspeakable into the open. Mary Magdalene’s message in the Gospels offers a message of hope, redemption, and healing, commissioned by Jesus himself to speak the truth of the Resurrection.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Honors Program.