Major roles: 2S,T,2Bar; minor roles: 2S,B; chorus
Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, is living on the island of Tauris as a priestess of Diana, among the barbaric Scythians. She has dreamt of the death of her parents, and that she will unwittingly kill her brother Orestes. At the temple she prays to Diana, who brought her to Tauris. The Scythian king Thoas is filled with foreboding and demands a human sacrifice. Two Greek youths, washed ashore by a storm, are brought forward. Unknown to Iphigenia, the strangers are Orestes and his friend Pylades. They are separated by guards and Orestes falls into a fit.
The pursuing Furies accuse him of matricide and the ghost of his mother rises up to haunt him. Iphigenia is drawn to this stranger, calms him, and persuades him to tell her news of her family at home. He relates the bloody events at Mycenae, ending with the ‘death’ of Orestes. She plans to release one prisoner to seek help from her sister Electra, hoping thereby to save Orestes, but he refuses to abandon his friend to death, and sends Pylades.
Iphigenia reluctantly prepares to sacrifice Orestes, but as she raises the knife they recognise each other. The raging Thoas is set to kill brother and sister, but Pylades arrives with Greek forces and slays Thoas. The goddess Diana offers her protection and the persecution by the Scythians is ended.
Ethics, Literary, Mythology, Relationships