Special Topics: 

The Sacrifice of Iphigenia

the representations of the myth through art.

Lindsay Clary

Please click the thumbnail to see the larger image.


iphigeniakrater.jpg (41316 bytes)This is the only Ancient Greek rendition of the sacrifice I could find. The image of a stag is superimposed on Iphigenia, mimicking other renditions of the myth (than Aeschylus', that state Artemis replaces Iphigenia with a stag.  Also, note the tray of food or incense on the left, both first fruit rituals mentioned by Burkert. This red-figured on black pottery is from the 5th century BCE.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia, photo courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum, London.



iphigeniadragged.jpg (57768 bytes)

Etruscan painting of men carrying Iphigenia, who is wearing saffron robes of marriage, which could symbolize blood or fire.

Iphigenia dragged to the altar Etruscan painted terra cotta slab 7th-6th century B.C.Louvre, Paris http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/





iphigeniaurn.jpg (47594 bytes)   Etruscan burial urn with Artemis on top. Artemis is the largest and most important figure on the urn.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Etruscan burial urn, Perugia, 3rd-2nd century B.C. http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/







iphigeniatiepolo1.jpg (75785 bytes)Again, Iphigenia is wearing saffron robes; the eyes of almost everyone in the painting are turned to Artemis. There is a stag for replacement. The warrior figure in the lower right hand corner may be Achilles.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Giambattista Tiepolo, http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/

iphigeniatiepolo.jpg (47748 bytes) This detail of a similar painting by Tiepolo shows the blade at Iphigenia's breast, countering the presence of the stag in Tiepolo's other piece.

Detail of fresco at Villa Valmarana, Tiepolo, http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/



iphigeniaraimondi.jpg (107193 bytes)Libations of wine are being poured on the fire, while more wine is being lifted from the ground.  The stag is being burned rather than Iphigenia in this piece.  The priest is pouring the libation and Agamemnon is off to the left holding a sword above him.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Mercantonio Raimondi, http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/


iphigeniabowl.jpg (46239 bytes) This baroque plate is another interesting "interpretation" of the sacrifice of Iphigenia. Some of the interesting touches on this piece are the warship in the background, which intimates at the need for Iphigenia's sacrifice for war, and the serpent in the tree.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Maiolica Bowl, Workshop of Guido Durantino, 1535, National Gallery of Art, Washington, http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/


iphigeniatempesta.jpg (135219 bytes)Artemis (Diana) rescuing Iphigenia and replacing her with a deer.

Agamemnon Sacrificing Iphigenia, Antonio Tempesta, Fine Arts Museum of San Fransico, http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/


iphigeniapriestess.jpg (8297 bytes)Iphigenia portrayed as Artemis' priestess at Tauris. This piece represents the myth that Iphigenia was rescued by Artemis and installed as Artemis' priestess.

Iphigenia As Priestess of Artemis in Tauris
Roman fresco



iphigeniapellegrini.jpg (144690 bytes)Another depiction of the sacrifice. Note the god present in smoke from the pyre.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Giovanni Pellegrini, Fine Art Museum of San Fransico, http://www.calliope.free-online.co.uk/


iphigeniastrutt.jpg (14755 bytes)iphigeniawestauris.jpg (10846 bytes) These two paintings show Iphigenia meeting Orestes and Pylades on Tauris. After meeting, they plot to escape.

 On left:

Orestes and Pylades Brought Before Iphigenia, Joseph Strutt, http://www.calliope.free- online.co.uk/

On right:

Iphigenia Recognizes Orestes and Pylades, Benjamin West, http://www.calliope.free- online.co.uk/


iphigenialeighton.jpg (19190 bytes)iphigeniawest.jpg (16522 bytes)These two painting show the myth of Cymon discovering Iphigenia and he "awakens" intellectually and emotionally.

On left:

Cymon and Iphigenia, Leighton, 1884, http://www.pre-raphaelites.com/

On right:

Cymon and Iphigenia, Benjamin West, 1773, http://www.lacma.org/