Cassandra was a daughter of King Priam of Troy, brought home by Agamemnon as his slave. The god Apollo gifted her with unfailing prophetic ability, but also punished her with the curse that her warnings would always go unheeded.
" All-seeing Zeus has indeed proved himself a relentless foe to the House of Atreus from the beginning "
The House of Atreus was an extremely unlucky Greek family that experienced suffering on an extraordinary scale.
A great deal of the tragedy affecting this family seems self-inflicted. Their crimes are linked to a terrible curse passed down from generation to generation, touching many of the most famous characters of Greek mythology.
Tantalus, who was punished in Tartarus for his crime against the gods, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Aegisthus and Orestes are all members of this unfortunate family.
" I would rather work the soil as a serf on hire to some landless impoverished peasant than be King of all these lifeless dead "
This seems like a shockingly strange sentiment to come from one of the greatest heroes of Greek mythology, the man who chose ever-lasting glory over life. This statement really serves to show how different the theme of The Odyssey is to Homer’s earlier epic, The Iliad. If the latter is about war, death and glory, the former is most definitely about life. Achilles has achieved fame that Odysseus could only dream of, yet it is Achilles who envies Odysseus simply for being alive; it is Odysseus who will truly get to enjoy the admiration his reputation has earned. This sentence also illustrates just how depressing the Underworld is for its denizens, that not even Achilles’ hard-won glory can cheer him.
Tantalus was a mythical man, beloved by the gods and often invited to dine with them. He decided to test their omniscience by feeding up his own son at a banquet. The gods were outraged, and punished him in Tartarus. He suffered eternal hunger and thirst, but could never quite reach the food and drink surrounding him. Tantalus was the first of the line of the House of Atreus, mentioned above.
" Then I witnessed the torture of Sisyphus "
Descending to the Underworld and kidnapping the fearsome hound, Cerberus, was one of the twelve labours of Heracles, the tasks set by Eurystheus, king of Tiryns and Mycenae, whom Heracles had been ordered to serve as punishment for murdering his own wife and children.
" Theseus and Peirithous, those legendary children of the gods. "
Theseus and Peirithous were two Greek heroes and friends, who descended to the Underworld in a plot to abduct Persephone to be Peirithous’ bride. An angry Hades tricked and captured them. Heracles managed to free Theseus, but Peirithous remained forever trapped in the Underworld.
" Your next encounter will be with the Sirens "
The Argo was the ship of Jason and the Argonauts. The event referred to here is an episode in the story of Jason and the Argonauts where they must sail through two dangerous, clashing rocks. Watch this video to see a clip from the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts (bear in mind that this version differs in some ways from ancient Greek mythology).
" when she swallowed the salt water down, the whole interior of her vortex was exposed "
The star referred to here is Eosphorus or Phosphorus (‘Dawn-bearer’), the morning star and son of Eos. His brother, Hesperus, was the evening star. The early Greeks who first named them did not realise that the morning star and evening star are not two separate bodies, or actually even stars, but are in fact both the planet Venus, shining brightly at dawn and dusk.
" When all eyes in the city are fixed on the ship’s approach turn her into a rock looking like a ship off-shore. "