Iphigenia in Tauris


Euripides. The Plays of Euripides, Translated into English Prose from the Text of Paley. Vol. II. Coleridge, Edward P., translator. London: George Bell and Sons, 1891.

  • [*](Dramatis PersonaeIphigeniaOrestesPyladesChorusHerdsmanThoasMessengerAthena)[*](The work has been heavily adapted and modernized from the Coleridge translation.)
    On the sea-shore, in the Tauric Chersonese, near a temple of Artemis.
    1. Pelops, son of Tantalus, coming to Pisa with swift horses, married Oenomaus’ daughter, and she gave birth to Atreus, whose children are Menelaus and Agamemnon; from him I was born,
    2. his child Iphigenia, by the daughter of Tyndareus. Where Euripus rolls about its whirlpools in the frequent winds and twists the darkening waves, my father sacrificed me to Artemis for Helen’s sake, or so he thought, in the famous clefts of Aulis.
    3. For there lord Agamemnon mustered his expedition of a thousand ships of Hellas, wanting to take the crown of Troy in glorious victory and avenge the outrage to Helen’s marriage, doing this favor for Menelaus.
    4. But when he met with dreadful winds that would not let him sail, he went to burnt sacrifices, and Calchas had this to say: Lord and general of Hellas, Agamemnon, you will not set free your ships from land until Artemis has your daughter Iphigenia
    5. as a victim. For you once vowed to sacrifice to the torch-bearing goddess the most beautiful creature brought forth that year; then your wife, Clytemnestra, bore a child in your house—ascribing the prize of beauty to me—whom you must sacrifice. And by the craft of Odysseus,
    6. they took me from my mother, pretending a marriage with Achilles. I came to Aulis; held up high over the altar, I, the unhappy one, was about to die by the sword; but Artemis gave the Achaeans a deer in exchange for me and stole me from them; conducting me through the bright air,
    7. she settled me here in the land of the Taurians. A barbarian rules this land of barbarians: Thoas, who runs as quickly as the flight of birds, and so he received his name for his swiftness of foot. Artemis has made me the priestess in this temple.
    8. Here I begin the rites, which the goddess delights in, of a banquet noble in name only—I am silent as to the rest, for I fear the goddess— for I sacrifice, by a custom of the city established earlier, any Hellene who comes to this land.
    9. But others carry out the sacrifices, not to be spoken of, within the temple of the goddess.
    10. But the strange visions which the night brought with it, I will tell to the air, if that is any relief. I dreamed that I had left this land
    11. to live in Argos, and to sleep in the midst of the maidens’ rooms; but the earth’s back was shaken by a tossing swell. When I escaped and stood outside, I saw the cornice of the house fall, and the whole roof hurled in ruins on the ground, from the highest pillars.
    12. One support of my father’s house was left, I thought, and it had yellow locks of hair waving from its capital, and took on human voice. In observance of the art of slaughtering strangers that I practice here, I gave it holy water as if it were about to die, while I wept.
    13. This is my interpretation of this dream: Orestes, whom I consecrated by my rites, is dead. For male children are the supports of the house; and those whom I purify with holy water die. I cannot connect this dream to my friends,
    14. for Strophius, when I perished, had no son. Now I wish to give libations to my brother, though he is absent from me—for I would be able to do this—with the attendants given me by the king, Hellene women. But why
    15. are they not yet here? I will go inside this temple of the goddess where I live. Exit Iphigenia.
    1. (entering cautiously.) Look out, take care that no one is in the path.
    1. I am looking, and turning my eyes everywhere, in examination.
    1. Pylades, do you think this is the hall of the goddess,
    2. for which we set sail from Argos?