- In classical legend, the daughter of Agamemnon, King of Mycenae.Having offended Artemis by killing her favourite stag, Agamemnon vowedto sacrifice the most beautiful thing the year brought forth; thisproved to be his infant daughter. He deferred the sacrifice for manyyears, until the soothsayer Calchas told him that the Greek fleet,then sailing for Troy, would be becalmed until he had fulfilled hisvow; accordingly, the king prepared to sacrifice his daughter. Atthe last moment Artemis snatched Iphigenia from the altar and carriedher to Tauris, substituting a hind in her place. The story has inspiredtragedies by Euripides, Goethe, and Racine,and an opera by Gluck.
Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis was left incomplete at his deathand produced posthumously with additions that are now lost. In the survivingscenes an irresolute Agamemnon prepares to sacrifice Iphigenia. By contrastEuripides' Iphigenia in Tauris shows his mastery of a lighter moreromantic style of drama; it was first performed in Athens in about 414 BC.In the play Iphigenia, having been rescued by Artemis and removed to Tauris,discovers that her brother Orestes and his friend are the intended victims ofa human sacrifice. The story ends happily after she outwits a barbarian kingto organize their escape. This work provided the basis for Goethe'sIphigenie auf Tauris, a play that he initially wrote in prose (1779)but later recast in verse (1786 - 88). The earlier version was firstperformed at Weimar in 1779; the later version in 1802. The second version ofthe play incorporates Goethe's highly personal views on the redeeming powerof human love.