Goethe: Iphigenia in Tauris

Our new translation of Goethe's play is now available online here. The edition is also available for purchase in Kindle ebook format, and paperback print format here.

Iphigenia in Tauris is a reworking by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) of the tragedy by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides. It describes the chance encounter between Iphigenia, Agamemnon's daughter - now serving as the priestess of Artemis on the wild coasts of Tauris - and her estranged sibling, Orestes. The story follows the siblings’ escape from the local custom of ritual sacrifice, and the themes of freedom and female autonomy in particular render this a fascinating work.

Goethe was in Italy, and Sicily, from 1786 to 1788, his visit having a profound influence on his poetic and philosophical development. Closer contact with the remains, in Rome, of the Roman Classical world, and, in Sicily, with Classical Greek architecture, deepened his knowledge and understanding of ancient Greek and Roman culture, influenced as it had been by the writings of Winckelmann. Classicism tempered his initial leanings towards Romanticism throughout his later career. Iphigenia in Tauris (1787), the Roman Elegies (1795) the prose journal Italian Journey (1817), and the second part of Faust (1832), bear particular witness to this.

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