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date: 25 September 2020

Idomeneuslocked

  • John A. Rice

Extract

Libretto subject, used several times in the 18th century. Idomeneus was King of Crete during the time of the Trojan War. Beset by a violent storm as he returned to Crete, he vowed to Neptune that if he escaped shipwreck he would sacrifice to the god the first living thing he saw on his safe arrival; that thing turned out to be his own son. Idomeneus carried out his vow; the inhumanity of his deed caused such horror that he was forced to abdicate and leave Crete. This story, whose parallels with the story of Agamemnon and Iphigenia and the biblical stories of Abraham and especially Jephtha are obvious, is unmentioned by Homer. It may not have been associated with Idomeneus until late antiquity, and probably under the influence of other legends. The 4th-century grammarian Servius, in his commentary on Virgil’s Aeneid, is the author of what is apparently the earliest surviving account....

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