Bob Dylan as Cassandra

by Larry Fyffe

Apollo is disliked by Hera, the wife of Zeus, as he’s not her son though Zeus is his father; the feeling be mutual because Hera’s unkind to Apollo’s mother. Hera supports the Greeks in the Trojan War because Paris, a Trojan, does not judge her the most beautiful woman in the world; instead, he gives the honour to Venus in return for Helen of Troy.

Apollo (whose father, Zeus, the God of Thunder, attempts to remain neutral) sides with the Trojans. Exceptions are made to the rule by these Olympian gods in events that involve desecrating temples, or killing sacred animals.

Apollo falls in lust with Princess Cassandra, daughter of the King of Troy, expecting sex in return for granting her the gift of prophecy. A good Greek god don’t break no promises so when Cassandra doesn’t come across, he amends his promise, adding that no one will believe her. Cassandra foretells that the Trojan Paris will abduct Helen, and that the ‘Trojan horse’ is a Greek trick. Sure enough, no one pays any attention to Cassandra’s warnings.

Married though he be, the leader of the victorious Greeks – Agamemnon – takes Cassandra home as his concubine. She’s thought mad, and a whore to boot; predicts her own death, and that of the Greek leader.

Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, transgendered, can be considered to take on the persona of Cassandra in a number of song lyrics.

In a song lyrics below, Bob Dylan refers to the prophecy of the Old Testament. From a Jewish background, the entertainer refers to “the Lord” and to “God”; the name of Jesus is not mentioned:

Are you ready for the judgment
Are you ready for the terrible swift sword
Are you ready for Armaggeddon
Are you ready for the day of the Lord?

(Bob Dylan: Are You Ready)

In the Old Testament, God’s final judgment is foretold – God’s kingdom will be established in Israel:

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom
Which shall never be destroyed
And the kingdom shall not be left to other people
But it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms
And it shall stand for ever

(Daniel 2:44)

The Gnostic-like earth/air/fire/water metaphors in the book of Revelations (New Testament) are  interpreted simplistically by most orthodox Christian authorities – it’s all about Christ’s coming victory over the Whore of Babylon (Revelations is the only book in the Holy Bible where “Armaggeddon” gets mentioned):

And he gathered them together into a place
Called in the Hebrew tongue Armaggeddon
(Revelation 16:16)

When Dylan refers to Jesus, and to Christ’s anti-materialistic teachings, he does not speak about Christ as though Jesus were God – the lyrics below be not straight forward, but double-edged indeed:

When the whip that keeps you in line doesn't make him jump
Say he's hard of hearing, say that he's a chump
Say he's out of step with reality as you try to test his nerve
Because he doesn't pay tribute to the king that you serve
(Bob Dylan: Property Of Jesus)

Blasted Dylan gets from all sides – from nonbelievers, from Christians, and from Jews. He sings lyrics that criticize the God of the Hebrews; he joins a Christian sect, and sings gospel songs; not only that, he preaches from the stage like a fire-breathing evangelist.

Yes he does, but the burlesquing ghost of Lord Buckley stands, a-smiling, behind the “Whore of Bab Dylon”.

Cassandra's a sad-eyed lady; 
    she's treated  badly, and unfairly so:
Are you to pay for what you have
With all you are? - No other word
We caught, but with a laughing crowd
Moved on. None heeded, and few heard

(Edwin Arlington Robinson: Cassandra)

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