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date: 08 August 2020

Iphigenia in Aulislocked

  • Julie E. Cumming


Libretto subject used in the 18th century. Its source is the Iphigeneia in Aulis of Euripides , but Racine’s Iphigénie (1674) is of equal importance. Librettos on the subject were written in French (Iphigénie en Aulide), German (Iphigenie in Aulis) and Italian (Ifigenia in Aulide).

In Euripides’ account, the Greek fleet is becalmed at Aulis where it has assembled to sail for Troy. An oracle demands that Agamemnon sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia, in order that the winds may blow. Agamemnon vacillates; Clytemnestra protests; Achilles defends Iphigenia; Iphigenia goes willingly to the altar. At the last minute Diana carries her off, leaving a deer in her place. This version permits a sequel, Iphigenia in Tauris . According to Racine there is a second Iphigenia, known as Erifile [Eriphyle]. At the last moment the high priest realizes that Eriphyle is the one who must die; she kills herself, and Iphigenia and Achilles marry. The third common variant is a compromise, in which, without Eriphyle, Iphigenia is saved by divine intervention and marries Achilles....

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