4–5 I am Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon

and of Clytemnestra, the daughter of Tyndareus;

add. sister of Electra and Chrysothemis and Orestes.


I am Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, 

8-14 Agamemnon, who wanted to go to war against Troy

and was willing to kill me to do it.

25-27 He lured me to Aulis with the pretense that I would marry Achilles.

They took me from my mother’s side and above the sacrificial fire

they lifted me high in the air and cut my throat with the knife.


4-5 I am Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon and of Clytemnestra:

add. my mother Clytemnestra tried her best to prevent my sacrifice.

28-39 At the critical moment, Artemis stole me away, 

replaced me with a deer, and transported me

to this land of the Taurians to live here, 

where a barbarian king rules barbarian people.

Thoas is his name, so called because of his swift running.

He appoints me priestess in this temple of Artemis,

who is pleased by “feasts” that are beautiful only in that name—

fearing the goddess, I stay silent about the rest.

I sacrifice, in accordance with the custom that existed before my arrival,

any Greek man who washes up on this shore.


4-5 I am Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra,  

add. sister of Electra and Chrysothemis and Orestes.

42-58 Last night I had a troubling, foreboding dream about my brother Orestes, 

[231] who was still a baby when I was sacrificed and brought here.

I was back home in Argos, sleeping in my own bedroom with my sisters.

An earthquake shook the whole house, and I fled outside.

I watched the palace crumble to the ground, from roof to foundation—

except one pillar was left standing, 

a pillar that seemed to have human qualities.

Just as I do here before the sacrificial killing, 

I anointed the pillar to be the next victim,

but I was weeping as I did so. 

I interpret the dream as a sign that Orestes has died.

He, the male heir, was the pillar of our home and family,

and whomever I anoint in that way dies immediately after.


add. I am Iphigenia, sister of Electra and Chrysothemis and Orestes,  

Orestes who is no more.

203-235 From the beginning my lot in life was a wretched one.

I came to Aulis as a bride, but my wedding became my funeral.

Now I am a stranger on the edge of an inhospitable sea,

dwelling in a desolate home,

unmarried, childless, no city, no loved ones.

I no longer sing and dance for the Argive goddess Hera.

My song here is the heart-rending cries of strangers dying at the altar.

But I set aside my thoughts for them

as I weep for my brother, overcome by death back home,

my little brother, who was a baby in his mother’s arms 

61-64 when I last saw him. My fellow Greek women, 

join me in offering libations for my departed beloved brother.


[libation ritual, based on lines 143-177]


Enslaved women, I am engulfed by

laments most mournful, lacking melody 

and full of discordant sounds.


[keening from Iphigenia and chorus]


I weep for what has happened to me, 

I weep for what has happened to my family,

I weep for my brother’s life cut short,

the darkness of my dream made real.

I call on the gods who robbed me of my only brother,

and sent him to Hades.

For him I will pour these libations,

ritual liquids from a golden vessel,

to honor the departed:

milk, wine, and honey,

all charms for the dead.


[first pour


Oh, son of Agamemnon under the earth,

I send these to you since you have perished.


[second pour


Receive them here—I am not able

to mourn at your grave.


[third pour


For I was taken far away from you,

and in the minds of those back home I, too, am dead.


Πέλοψ ὁ Ταντάλειος ἐς Πῖσαν μολὼν 

θοαῖσιν ἵπποις Οἰνομάου γαμεῖ κόρην, 

ἐξ ἧς Ἀτρεὺς ἔβλαστεν: Ἀτρέως δὲ παῖς 

Μενέλαος Ἀγαμέμνων τε: τοῦ δ᾽ ἔφυν ἐγώ 

τῆς Τυνδαρείας θυγατρὸς Ἰφιγένεια παῖς,     5

ἣν ἀμφὶ δίναις ἃς θάμ᾽ Εὔριπος πυκναῖς

αὔραις ἑλίσσων κυανέαν ἅλα στρέφει, 

ἔσφαξεν Ἑλένης οὕνεχ᾽, ὡς δοκεῖ, πατὴρ

Ἀρτέμιδι κλειναῖς ἐν πτυχαῖσιν Αὐλίδος. 

ἐνταῦθα γὰρ δὴ χιλίων ναῶν στόλον      10

Ἑλληνικὸν συνήγαγ᾽ Ἀγαμέμνων ἄναξ,

τὸν καλλίνικον στέφανον Ἰλίου θέλων 

λαβεῖν Ἀχαιοῖς τούς θ᾽ ὑβρισθέντας γάμους 

Ἑλένης μετελθεῖν, Μενέλεῳ χάριν φέρων. 

δεινῆς δ᾽ ἀπλοίας πνευμάτων τε τυγχάνων,     15

 ἐς ἔμπυρ᾽ ἦλθε, καὶ λέγει Κάλχας τάδε:

ὦ τῆσδ᾽ ἀνάσσων Ἑλλάδος στρατηγίας, 

Ἀγάμεμνον, οὐ μὴ ναῦς ἀφορμίσῃ χθονός, 

πρὶν ἂν κόρην σὴν Ἰφιγένειαν Ἄρτεμις 

λάβῃ σφαγεῖσαν: ὅ τι γὰρ ἐνιαυτὸς τέκοι     20

κάλλιστον, ηὔξω φωσφόρῳ θύσειν θεᾷ.

παῖδ᾽ οὖν ἐν οἴκοις σὴ Κλυταιμήστρα δάμαρ 

τίκτει — τὸ καλλιστεῖον εἰς ἔμ᾽ ἀναφέρων — 

ἣν χρή σε θῦσαι. καί μ᾽ Ὀδυσσέως τέχναις 

μητρὸς παρείλοντ᾽ ἐπὶ γάμοις Ἀχιλλέως.     25

ἐλθοῦσα δ᾽ Αὐλίδ᾽ ἡ τάλαιν᾽ ὑπὲρ πυρᾶς 

μεταρσία ληφθεῖσ᾽ ἐκαινόμην ξίφει: 

ἀλλ᾽ ἐξέκλεψεν ἔλαφον ἀντιδοῦσά μου 

Ἄρτεμις Ἀχαιοῖς, διὰ δὲ λαμπρὸν αἰθέρα 

πέμψασά μ᾽ ἐς τήνδ᾽ ᾤκισεν Ταύρων χθόνα,     30

οὗ γῆς ἀνάσσει βαρβάροισι βάρβαρος 

Θόας, ὃς ὠκὺν πόδα τιθεὶς ἴσον πτεροῖς 

ἐς τοὔνομ᾽ ἦλθε τόδε ποδωκείας χάριν. 

ναοῖσι δ᾽ ἐν τοῖσδ᾽ ἱερέαν τίθησί με: 

ὅθεν νόμοισι τοῖσιν ἥδεται θεὰ     35

Ἄρτεμις, ἑορτῆς, τοὔνομ᾽ ἧς καλὸν μόνον — 

τὰ δ᾽ ἄλλα σιγῶ, τὴν θεὸν φοβουμένη — 

θύω γὰρ ὄντος τοῦ νόμου καὶ πρὶν πόλει, 

ὃς ἂν κατέλθῃ τήνδε γῆν Ἕλλην ἀνήρ. 

κατάρχομαι μέν, σφάγια δ᾽ ἄλλοισιν μέλει     40

ἄρρητ᾽ ἔσωθεν τῶνδ᾽ ἀνακτόρων θεᾶς.

ἃ καινὰ δ᾽ ἥκει νὺξ φέρουσα φάσματα, 

λέξω πρὸς αἰθέρ᾽, εἴ τι δὴ τόδ᾽ ἔστ᾽ ἄκος. 

ἔδοξ᾽ ἐν ὕπνῳ τῆσδ᾽ ἀπαλλαχθεῖσα γῆς 

οἰκεῖν ἐν Ἄργει, παρθένοισι δ᾽ ἐν μέσαις     45

εὕδειν, χθονὸς δὲ νῶτα σεισθῆναι σάλῳ, 

φεύγειν δὲ κἄξω στᾶσα θριγκὸν εἰσιδεῖν 

δόμων πίτνοντα, πᾶν δ᾽ ἐρείψιμον στέγος 

βεβλημένον πρὸς οὖδας ἐξ ἄκρων σταθμῶν. 

μόνος λελεῖφθαι στῦλος εἷς ἔδοξέ μοι     50

δόμων πατρῴων, ἐκ δ᾽ ἐπικράνων κόμας 

ξανθὰς καθεῖναι, φθέγμα δ᾽ ἀνθρώπου λαβεῖν, 

κἀγὼ τέχνην τήνδ᾽ ἣν ἔχω ξενοκτόνον 

τιμῶσ᾽ ὑδραίνειν αὐτὸν ὡς θανούμενον, 

κλαίουσα. τοὔναρ δ᾽ ὧδε συμβάλλω τόδε:     55

τέθνηκ᾽ Ὀρέστης, οὗ κατηρξάμην ἐγώ. 

στῦλοι γὰρ οἴκων παῖδές εἰσιν ἄρσενες: 

θνῄσκουσι δ᾽ οὓς ἂν χέρνιβες βάλωσ᾽ ἐμαί. 

οὐδ᾽ αὖ συνάψαι τοὔναρ ἐς φίλους ἔχω: 

Στροφίῳ γὰρ οὐκ ἦν παῖς, ὅτ᾽ ὠλλύμην ἐγώ.     60

νῦν οὖν ἀδελφῷ βούλομαι δοῦναι χοὰς 

παροῦσ᾽ ἀπόντι — ταῦτα γὰρ δυναίμεθ᾽ ἄν — 

σὺν προσπόλοισιν, ἃς ἔδωχ᾽ ἡμῖν ἄναξ 

Ἑλληνίδας γυναῖκας. ἀλλ᾽ ἐξ αἰτίας 

οὔπω τίνος πάρεισιν; εἶμ᾽ ἔσω δόμων     65

ἐν οἷσι ναίω τῶνδ᾽ ἀνακτόρων θεᾶς.





ἰὼ δμωαί, 

δυσθρηνήτοις ὡς θρήνοις 

ἔγκειμαι, τᾶς οὐκ εὐμούσου     145

μολπᾶς βοὰν ἀλύροις ἐλέγοις, αἰαῖ, 

αἰαῖ, κηδείοις οἴκτοισιν: 

αἵ μοι συμβαίνουσ᾽ ἆται, 

σύγγονον ἁμὸν κατακλαιομένα 

ζωᾶς, οἵαν οἵαν ἰδόμαν     150

ὄψιν ὀνείρων 

νυκτός, τᾶς ἐξῆλθ᾽ ὄρφνα. 

ὀλόμαν ὀλόμαν: 

οὐκ εἴσ᾽ οἶκοι πατρῷοι: 

οἴμοι μοι φροῦδος γέννα. 

φεῦ φεῦ τῶν Ἄργει μόχθων.     155

ἰὼ δαῖμον, 

μόνον ὅς με κασίγνητον συλᾷς 

Ἀίδᾳ πέμψας, ᾧ τάσδε χοὰς 

μέλλω κρατῆρά τε τὸν φθιμένων     160

ὑδραίνειν γαίας ἐν νώτοις 

πηγάς τ᾽ οὐρείων ἐκ μόσχων 

Βάκχου τ᾽ οἰνηρὰς λοιβὰς 

ξουθᾶν τε πόνημα μελισσᾶν,     165

ἃ νεκροῖς θελκτήρια κεῖται. 

ἀλλ᾽ ἔνδος μοι πάγχρυσον 

τεῦχος καὶ λοιβὰν Ἅιδα. 

ὦ κατὰ γαίας Ἀγαμεμνόνιον     170

θάλος, ὡς φθιμένῳ τάδε σοι πέμπω: 

δέξαι δ᾽: οὐ γὰρ πρὸς τύμβον σοι 

ξανθὰν χαίταν, οὐ δάκρυ᾽ οἴσω. 

τηλόσε γὰρ δὴ σᾶς ἀπενάσθην     175

πατρίδος καὶ ἐμᾶς, ἔνθα δοκήμασι 

κεῖμαι σφαχθεῖσ᾽ ἁ τλάμων.




ἐξ ἀρχᾶς μοι δυσδαίμων 

δαίμων τᾶς ματρὸς ζώνας 

καὶ νυκτὸς κείνας: ἐξ ἀρχᾶς     205

λόχιαι στερρὰν παιδείαν 

Μοῖραι ξυντείνουσιν θεαί, 

τᾷ μναστευθείσᾳ 'ξ Ἑλλάνων, 

ἃν πρωτόγονον θάλος ἐν θαλάμοις 

Λήδας ἁ τλάμων κούρα     210

σφάγιον πατρῴᾳ λώβᾳ 

καὶ θῦμ᾽ οὐκ εὐγάθητον 

ἔτεκεν, ἔτρεφεν εὐκταίαν: 

ἱππείοις δ᾽ ἐν δίφροισι 

ψαμάθων Αὐλίδος ἐπέβασαν     215

νύμφαιον, οἴμοι, δύσνυμφον 

τῷ τᾶς Νηρέως κούρας, αἰαῖ. 

νῦν δ᾽ ἀξείνου πόντου ξείνα 

δυσχόρτους οἴκους ναίω, 

ἄγαμος ἄτεκνος ἄπολις ἄφιλος,     220

οὐ τὰν Ἄργει μέλπουσ᾽ Ἥραν 

οὐδ᾽ ἱστοῖς ἐν καλλιφθόγγοις 

κερκίδι Παλλάδος Ἀτθίδος εἰκὼ 

καὶ Τιτάνων ποικίλλουσ᾽, ἀλλ᾽ 

αἱμόρραντον δυσφόρμιγγα     225

ξείνων † αἱμάσσουσ᾽ ἄταν βωμούς, † 

οἰκτράν τ᾽ αἰαζόντων αὐδὰν 

οἰκτρόν τ᾽ ἐκβαλλόντων δάκρυον. 

καὶ νῦν κείνων μέν μοι λάθα, 

τὸν δ᾽ Ἄργει δμαθέντα κλαίω     230

σύγγονον, ὃν ἔλιπον ἐπιμαστίδιον, 

ἔτι βρέφος, ἔτι νέον, ἔτι θάλος 

ἐν χερσὶν ματρὸς πρὸς στέρνοις τ᾽ 

Ἄργει σκηπτοῦχον Ὀρέσταν.

Translator's Note

I created this translation of Iphigenia’s speeches from the beginning of Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians for a recent production of a new play, Iphigenia, that combines Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis (as Act 1) with his Iphigenia among the Taurians (as Act 2). It was first performed in November 2022 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the script has since been used in two subsequent performances: a private performance at the British American Drama Academy in the UK, and in an episode of the Center for Hellenic Studies series "Reading Greek Tragedy Online" (now available on Youtube).

I developed the translation in close collaboration with the director of the play, Edward Isser. Our goals were to maintain the substance of Euripides’ plays while making the dialogue understandable and engaging as heard in real time by a 21st-century American audience who likely have little experience with ancient Greek tragedy or any context for the characters of this story. Translating for performance offered opportunities and challenges that I found differed from translating for the page. During the performance, the audience will not be able to pause to ponder, or to go back and re-read if they don’t understand. There are no footnotes in performance to explain references. Although the play has been given a 20th-century setting, the dialogue and song lyrics have been rendered to sound removed from everyday speech, an intentional formal remoteness that, together with sometimes stark cultural differences, can create distance or even disorientation for the audience.

We started from Isser’s vision for the production, which included combining Euripides’ two plays into one and retelling Iphigenia’s story for a contemporary audience. We built the translation scene by scene, keeping at the forefront of our process what the audience sees before them on stage, and prioritizing showing over telling. Toward our goals, we liberally cut lines or compressed the sense into fewer lines. We also rearranged lines to serve the scene, while guarding against changing the context so much that the lines no longer had connection to the original sense. We were much more reserved about adding lines. Additions were based in other ancient sources, sometimes expanding on something that was present in Euripides’ text in order to illuminate it or to provide continuity between the two plays. Examples of such additions in this speech include the line about her mother’s role in Aulis (“my mother Clytemnestra tried her best to prevent my sacrifice”) to provide a transition into the narration of how Artemis saved her, and emphasizing Iphigenia’s role as sister through the repeated naming of all her siblings, including Chrysothemis, who is not named explicitly in either play. For continuity with the larger tradition with which these plays engage, I added the name known from Iliad 9.287 and Sophocles’ Electra.

Cutting, compressing, and rearranging are evident in this selection from Act 2, which draws on lines from two different scenes in the original Iphigenia among the Taurians.[1] Euripides starts his drama with Iphigenia on stage alone to speak the prologue. In typical Euripidean style, she introduces herself and provides the background for the story (IT 1–66). She leaves the stage after announcing that she is preparing to pour libations for her brother Orestes, whom she believes to be dead because of a dream that she has just described. Orestes himself, very much alive, and his friend Pylades then appear and share their reasons for being in Tauris—following orders from Apollo, they will steal the Taurian statue of Artemis and take it to Athens. Accomplishing this will atone for Orestes’ murder of his (and Iphigenia’s) mother and free him from the continuing pursuit of the Furies (67–122). This statue resides in the temple where his sister, whom he believes to be dead, is a priestess who sacrifices any Greeks who are caught in this land. They leave the stage, and the chorus of enslaved Greek women enters (123–142), followed by Iphigenia for the libations and lament for Orestes (143–177). After the chorus gives an antiphonal response (178–202), Iphigenia continues with lyrics about her own life and suffering (203–235) before a messenger arrives to report the capture of two Greek men, who are in fact Orestes and Pylades.

In our production, the audience has just seen in Act 1 what happened in Aulis. They already know who Iphigenia is and what she went through there: they witnessed her father Agamemnon’s decision to sacrifice her so that he could make war on Troy and her discovery of how he deceived her to accomplish his plan. In accordance with our preference to show rather than tell, our second act opens with the human sacrifice of two anonymous Greek men performed by Iphigenia. The second scene from the original play, with the arrival of Orestes and Pylades, follows. This speech, coming after those scenes, reintroduces Iphigenia to the audience in her new circumstances and conveys her character approximately fifteen years after the events of the first act. Her description here of what they saw only minutes before shows them that Iphigenia’s own perspective on the act of her own sacrifice (which in the Iphigenia at Aulis she eventually agrees to as a willing participant) has changed. 

In Act 1 Iphigenia offered her life willingly once she saw that doing so was the only way to save the lives of both Achilles and her mother and to avoid a horrifying and humiliating end for herself. She wanted also to define the meaning of her sacrifice, to make herself the hero whose death gloriously enables the Greek war effort. But she will not be remembered as she had hoped. Now she has for fifteen years inflicted on others the violence that was done to her. In this brutal existence, she struggles to hold onto her identity and her humanity by the thread of hope that she will one day be reunited with her family. Bringing forward what Iphigenia says about her life after the libations in the original (203–235) fits this new purpose of the speech. 

The straightforward line in Euripides in which the character on stage first introduces herself to the audience (literally rendered “I am Iphigenia, child of Agamemnon and of the daughter of Tyndareus,” IT 4–5) becomes a repeated mantra structuring the long speech. Calling to mind her family relationships and the names of her parents and siblings leads into her memories of and feelings for Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Orestes, as she recalls and recasts what happened to her. The audience sees a young woman both clinging to her identity so that she doesn’t lose it entirely and rewriting her life story.

[1] Greek text is from Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris. Euripidis Fabulae, vol. 2, ed. Gilbert Murray. Oxford Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1913. (via the Perseus Project). Line numbers in the translation refer to corresponding lines in the Greek text.

Mary Ebbott


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