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Iphigeneia

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Iphigeneia was the daughter of Agamemnon in Greek mythology.

Artemis punished Agamemnon after he killed a (sacred) deer in a (sacred) grove and boasted he was a better hunter. On his way to Troy to participate in the Trojan War, Agamemnon's ships were suddenly motionless as Artemis stopped the wind in Aulis. An oracle named Calchis told Agamemnon that the only way to appease Artemis was to sacrifice Iphigenia, his daughter. According to some versions, he did so, but others claims that he sacrificed a deer in her place and Iphigenia was taken to Crimea to prepare others for sacrifice to Artemis. Still others sources claim he was prepared to but Artemis whisked her to Taurus in Crimea. Hesiod said she became the goddess Hecate.

According to Euripides, Iphigeneia factors into the story of her brother, Orestes. In order to escape the persecutions of the Erinyes for killing his mother and her lover, he was ordered by Apollo to go to Tauris[?] (now the Crimea), carry off the statue of Artemis which had fallen from heaven, and bring it to Athens. He repairs to Tauris with Pylades, the son of Strophius and the intimate friend of Orestes, and the pair are at once imprisoned by the people, among whom the custom is to sacrifice all strangers to Artemis. The priestess of Artemis, whose duty it is to perform the sacrifice, is his sister Iphigenia. She offers to release Orestes if he will carry home a letter from her to Greece; he refuses to go, but bids Pylades take the letter while he himself will stay and be slain. After a conflict of mutual affection, Pylades at last yields, but the letter brings about a recognition between brother and sister, and all three escape together, carrying with them the image of Artemis. After his return to Greece, Orestes took possession of his fatherís kingdom of Mycenae, to which were added Argos and Laconia.

Iphigeneia was so closely identified with Artemis, and was not mentioned until late in the history of Greece, well after the stories of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra were first recorded, that some scholars believe she was originally a rival hunting goddess whose cult was subsumed by Artemis.

Alternative: Iphigenia, Iphianassa



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