Iphigenia (IHF-uh-jih-NI-uh), the daughter of King Agamemnon, sister of Orestes and Electra, and a priestess of Artemis in Tauris. According to her opening monologue, Artemis took pity on her just as she was about to be sacrificed at Aulis, snatched her away from the priest’s knife, and left a deer in her place. Transported to the land of the barbarian Taurians, she became the priestess of Artemis; it is her duty to preside over the sacrificial murder of all strangers captured by the Taurians. She dislikes both her duties and the country, and her longing for Greece is one of the major themes of the play. After she has spoken the opening monologue, a herdsman brings news that two Greeks have been captured and that Iphigenia must make preparations for their sacrifice. They are Orestes, the brother Iphigenia believes dead, and his friend Pylades. After much questioning in which each is careful not to reveal his identity, brother and sister recognize each other. Orestes, seeking release from the Furies for the murder of his mother, has been ordered to bring the statue of Artemis and Tauris to Attica. Iphigenia devises a plan for escape and Thoas, the king of Tauris, accepts it: She will take Orestes, unfit for sacrifice because of his crime of matricide, and the statue, defiled by his presence, to be cleansed in the sea. The plan succeeds until a storm prevents the Greek ship from leaving the harbor. Just as Thoas is about to send soldiers to kill the Greeks, the goddess Athena appears, orders Thoas to desist from his pursuit, and instructs Iphigenia to establish a new...
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