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Iphigenia in Tauris (Murray Translation)

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By: (484 BC - 406 BC)

The apparent sacrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis by her own father Agamemnon was forestalled by the godness Artemis, who by an adroit sleight of hand that fooled all participants, substituted a deer for the daughter. Wafted magically away to the “Friendless Shores” of savage Tauris and installed as chief priestess presiding over the human sacrifice of all luckless foreigners, Iphigenia broods over her “murder” by her parents and longs for some Greeks to be shipwrecked on her shores so she can wreak a vicarious vengeance on them. Little does she expect her own little brother Orestes to be one of those Greeks brought to her altar.

Possibly the most beautiful of the plays of Euripides, the Iphigenia in Tauris relates the final resolution of the dark tragedy of the House of Atreides. Filled with radiant imagery of sunlight and sea-foam and bird-flight (reproduced beautifully by the learned Oxford scholar Gilbert Murray), this is not a tragedy but a story with a happy ending, in which all the innocent are freed and equilibrium is restored. Despite the happy ending, this is no light romance; throughout the play the plangent tones of human sadness, homesickness, and exile remind the reader that happiness is the ephemeral thing, while sadness takes so many eternal forms. (Expatriate)

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This eBook was produced by Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

THE IPHIGENIA IN TAURIS OF EURIPIDES

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH RHYMING VERSE WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES BY

GILBERT MURRAY, LL.D., D. Litt.

REGIUS PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

PREFACE

The Iphigenia in Tauris is not in the modern sense a tragedy; it is a romantic play, beginning in a tragic atmosphere and moving through perils and escapes to a happy end. To the archaeologist the cause of this lies in the ritual on which the play is based. All Greek tragedies that we know have as their nucleus something which the Greeks called an Aition a cause or origin. They all explain some ritual or observance or commemorate some great event. Nearly all, as a matter of fact, have for this Aition a Tomb Ritual, as, for instance, the Hippolytus has the worship paid by the Trozenian Maidens at that hero's grave. The use of this Tomb Ritual may well explain both the intense shadow of death that normally hangs over the Greek tragedies, and also perhaps the feeling of the Fatality, which is, rightly or wrongly, supposed to be prominent in them... Continue reading book >>


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