This play premiered in Athens in 405BC and is about an incident that took place at Aulis before the the armies of Hellas could set sail for the Trojan War.
This isn't a tragedy as we would normally think of them, as in Shakespeare's tragedies where bodies litter the stage by the final scene but it is a tragedy nonetheless despite the apparent 'happy' ending.I've heard it argued that this is a tragedy in the way Aristotle defined them, where someone has to make a choice, a difficult & horrible choice where they are doomed whatever they decide to do.Previously only having seen the movie version (Iphigenia, 1977) of this play which ends somewhat ambiguously I would've probably disagreed, but now having read the text I agree wholeheartedly.
The main players Agamemnon, Menelaus, Clytemnestra, Achilles and Iphigenia herself all have to grapple with an unthinkable situation which one cannot think will end well.There are many conversations about leadership, family, duty, religion and morality along the way but this is essentially Agamemnon's tragedy (if we follow Aristotle's definition) rather than Iphigenia's (as suggested by the title) because as a Greek king and father he has the final say.Having said that, it goes without saying all 21st century sensibilities should be checked at the door before picking up the text.
Be warned, the ancient Greek playwrights much preferred to tell rather than show so all of the action takes place off stage and is carried forth mainly by messengers.However I found the subject matter and dramatic writing enough to keep my interest despite this.
Lastly, I personally wouldn't recommend this particular translation.It's not bad but I'm sure there are better ones out there.
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