Iphigenia in Aulis

by Euripides
Start Free Trial

Quotes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 456

Iphigenia has one of the most significant quotes in the play, and it is one that suggests it is she, not her father, Agamemnon, who is the true tragic hero at the center of Euripides's drama:

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Death will be my wedding, children, and glory.

Iphigenia is no doubt an innocent wrongly murdered by her father and his ambitions. However, she does not go to her death without courage. She accepts her fate and reframes it as something that will give her name glory and that will protect her people, the Greeks, from destruction in war. This makes her fate the most truly tragic in the play because she rises above her pain and turns it into something ennobling. Her words here prove she is a hero, likely the most heroic character in the play.

Agamemnon is a different sort of tragic figure, as shown in the following quote:

Homework Help

Latest answer posted December 4, 2015, 9:05 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

I have lost the use of my reason! My ruin is straight ahead of me.

Here, Agamemnon is responding to the old servant he is sending to fetch his daughter for the sacrifice. He wants to deceive Iphigenia, telling her she is to be married in order to coerce her there. He is using trickery, and the old man criticizes him for this. Agamemnon counters with this reply, revealing his reluctance and anguish.

By saying he has lost his sense of reason, Agamemnon is showing himself as a very human figure. He does not seem to know if what he is doing is entirely right, and the fact that he is resorting to deception to get his daughter to his side illustrates this moral dilemma within him. By saying his ruin is ahead of him, Agamemnon is also saying that even though this decision torments him, he feels it is inevitable. However, unlike his daughter, he does not face this tragic turn of events with courage or even much in the way of nobility.

Another significant quote comes from Agamemnon as he sends the messenger to bring his daughter to him:

No mortal ever knows happiness and good fortune all the way to the end. Each one is born with his bitterness waiting for him.

Here, Agamemnon is getting to the heart of all tragedy: that all people must inevitably suffer, and this is part of the human condition. He is about to lose his own beloved daughter to protect his beloved country. No matter which he would have chosen to save, he would have inevitably suffered regardless. The quote expresses the sinkhole of a problem in which he finds himself. Like the previous quote from him, it shows he is only willing to face this tragedy with bitter reserve and not with heroic courage like Iphigenia does.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Analysis

Next

Critical Essays