In Greek mythology, Cassandra (Greek Κασσάνδρα, also Κασάνδρα, Κεσάνδρα, Κατάνδρα, also known as Alexandra) was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. In an alternative version, she spent a night at Apollo's temple, at which time the temple snakes licked her ears clean so that she was able to hear the future (this is a recurring theme in Greek mythology, though sometimes it brings an ability to understand the language of animals rather than an ability to know the future). However, when she did not return his love, Apollo placed a curse on her so that no one would ever believe her predictions. She is a figure both of the epic tradition and of tragedy, where her combination of deep understanding and powerlessness exemplify the ironic condition of mankind.
"The rightly but insufficiently maligned insanity plea, as a defense in criminal courts, is predicated on ill health of the offender's decison-making faculties. The theory would seem to be that healthy faculties make decisions spontaneously and hence with full responsibility, while diseased ones are the pawns of outside forces. It is a hard line to draw, and the more so when one appreciates that all our actions subtend causal chains from far away and long ago. The plea has no evident place in the rationale of punishment as we have been picturing it, and a persuasive justification of it is not easy to conceive."