Iphigenia in Tauris, modern-day Crimea


Iphigenia in Tauris (Ancient Greek: Iphigeneia en Taurois) is a drama by the playwright Euripides, written between 414 BC and 412 BC. Although Wikipedia states that ‘there is no such place as “Tauris” in Euripides’ play’, the area where the drama takes place was ancient Taurica, present-day Crimea. For example, here is how Cambridge University Press introduced its most recent, 2023, edition of the play: “Euripides’ Iphigeneia among the Taurians has been a popular and influential text from antiquity onwards. It is a suspenseful drama set on the Black Sea coast in what is now Crimea, which explores themes of family loyalty, Greeks and barbarians, and the nature of the gods. The plot combines an unrecognised meeting between Iphigeneia, now a priestess of Artemis among the Taurians, and her brother Orestes, who with his friend Pylades has been captured and brought to her for sacrifice, with an exciting escape attempt for all three, ultimately brought about by divine intervention”. Cambridge edition also quotes Professor of Classics David Sider’s thoughts on the name of the play and what it actually meant. In Dr. Sider’s opinion, “The name cannot mean ‘Iphigeneia in [the place] Tauris’; this misunderstanding has come about partly by analogy with Iphigeneia in/at Aulis and partly through construing the Latin title (Iphigenia in Tauris, where Tauris is ablative plural) as though it were German or English, and has spread to other languages as well. There is no ancient authority for the form Ταυρίς as a place name, yet despite this many writers continue to use the form. I refer instead to ‘Taurike’ (for Ταυρικὴ Χερσόνησος), ‘the Tauric Chersonese’, or ‘the Tauric peninsula’.

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