45 pages 1 hour read


Iphigenia in Aulis

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 410

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Authorial Context: Euripides

The youngest of the three great Athenian tragedians (the other two were Aeschylus and Sophocles), Euripides was known for his adventurous and challenging plays. He seems to have been born on the island of Salamis, from where he moved to the nearby city of Athens to pursue a career as a tragedian. In his later years, he relocated to Macedon, where he died. There is virtually no reliable information for Euripides’ life aside from these bare facts (which may not be reliable either).

Euripides had a career that lasted some 50 years. He composed approximately 90 plays, 18 of which survive in full. Iphigenia in Aulis was first staged posthumously as part of Euripides’ final tetralogy (a set of four plays—three tragedies followed by a satyr play), which also included Euripides’ Bacchae. The tetralogy won first prize at the City Dionysia dramatic festival, one of only five tetralogies by Euripides to do so (Aeschylus, by comparison, won 13 times, and Sophocles won 18).

The text of Iphigenia in Aulis is debatable. Though the core of the tragedy was composed by Euripides, most scholars agree that much of the remaining text was composed by somebody else. It is possible that Euripides died before he could put the finishing touches on the play, and that his son (also named Euripides) polished it when he produced it after his father’s death.