Background Information about the Myth

I'm glad people liked this one.

The story of Iphigenia is a rather complex one in my opinion, with many levels to be explored. I'm just posting some basic info. for anyone who's interested after reading my story.


Iphigenia's Story – Following Euripides

I believe her story goes through three books, though I may be wrong. I know the first two are definitely: Iphigenia at Aulis and Iphigenia at Taurus.

Her two famous siblings are Orestes, her brother and heir to the throne of Mycenae, and Electra, her sister. (I have read different stories where she is oldest or Electra is older, so the ordering of the three siblings is questionable.) Her story at Aulis also plants the seed for things that happen during the war and after Agamemnon returns from the war, i.e. Clytemnestra's adultery, the murder of Agamemnon, and the exile of Orestes.

The general myth of Iphigenia originates from her being the favorite daughter of Agamemnon. Agamemnon killed the favorite hound of Artemis and therefore his whole army was stranded at Aulis. A prophecy said that Agamemnon must sacrifice his most beloved daughter in exchange for killing Artemis's favorite hound. Afraid that Clytemnestra would not agree, Agamemnon asks her to bring their daughter to Aulis to be married to Achilles. Clytemnestra and Iphigenia eventually find out after getting to Aulis and beg with Agamemnon to spare his own daughter. In the end, Iphigenia relents and agrees to be docilely sacrificed. Right before setting sail, Agamemnon sends a servant to Clytemnestra to inform her of a miracle that had taken place during the sacrifice—Artemis whisked Iphigenia away and replaced her with a lamb at the last moment. (She apparently became a priestess in the temple of Artemis at Aulis. Later in life, she finds her brother Orestes, who takes her back to Mycenae. Her experience in Mycenae might be under Electra's Tragedy.)

The prophecy—some say this is just something Calchas (the seer) made up under pressure. None of the regular sacrifices worked and the rowdy soldiers were all looking to him for a solution to the windless days. They are sailing to Troy in order to retrieve a woman so he comes up with the idea that they must first give up/sacrifice a woman.

Iphigenia vs. Helen—there are also rumors that Iphigenia isn't even the daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. Rather, she is the illegitimate daughter of Helen and Theseus (who kidnapped the young princess many years ago), given to Helen's sister to nurse because Helen herself was too young and unmarried. There's certainly a lot of irony in sacrificing the daughter to regain the mother.

Agamemnon betrays his daughter—he actually regrets caving into pressure and secretly sends a messenger to his wife with a second command to ignore the first letter. However, Menelaus catches the messenger and refuses to let him deliver the letter. By the time the two brothers had come to a consensus to spare Iphigenia, it was already too late. Once she reached the army camp, there was no way to save her. It was quite likely that even Agamemnon's soldiers would've mutinied so his hand was very much forced in the matter.

Iphigenia and the War—we are supposed to view Iphigenia as a heroine, who bravely sacrifices herself for her country. At the same time, we despise Helen for launching a thousand ships and causing a ten-year war. If we really think about it, Iphigenia is every bit as responsible for this war as Helen. If she had refused to sacrifice herself, refused to die at the altar, there was no way—according to the prophecy—for the soldiers to reach Troy…no way for them to die fighting at Troy. I thought this was a really interesting perspective; gives you something to chew on.


dreaming star—yay…I posted something non-manga! I was actually kinda inspired to post this because I read your "Gods' Rebellion"…the title caught my eye (thought it was just like my Tengokuno Densetsu…) I like how this version turned out. My English teacher suggested I look at this/rewrite this from other perspectives, like after she's dead…they didn't turn out as well, so I'm not sure if I should post them…hm… Btw, I've read your short short short poem…I rather like it…crisp and…short… Tell me when you repost your other works, k?

StormDancer—Yeah, there are definitely many versions of the story. If we follow Euripides's, Iphigenia was saved in the end, but that would ruin the ending mood for this piece. I felt that her dying would better make the point; people in general view this as less of a tragedy, more just heroism with no pain involved, if there was a happy ending. The betrayal and heartache involved would be extenuated by the fact that she didn't end up dying. Call it artistic license? But the story is really a very interesting one with many levels that I didn't go into so I decided to post this page.

CalliopeMused—I was kind of worried about the death scene actually. I've never written one before so I'm not sure how realistic it seems…hehe…I guess it semi-worked, huh?


I've actually written several other one-shots, revolving around the same myth, that look at things from a different perspective. Review and tell me if you want to read them, and I'll post them up!

Enjoy!

Seraphe