photo of sculpture TROY
Activities for Racine's (and Euripides') Iphigenia


NOTE the chili peppers!!! One means a pretty easy Activity, two means a harder one, and three means a challenging Activity. It is up to you.

1. Read The Trojan War, Chapter 6: "Euripides' Two Iphigenia Plays: Sacrifice and Resolution," and Chapter 13: "Improving Iphigenia: Racine and Goethe Modernize Evil."

2. Explore the links on the Racine's (and Euripides') Iphigenia page.

3. Read through all the Activity questions on this page before selecting Activities to work with. Notice that some of the Activities are quite easy and may only require reading one play, while others are far more difficult, and may require reading more than one play or doing online research plus reading plays.

Select Activities that interest you and are appropriate to the time you have to spend on them. You will not get a higher grade because you select more difficult Activities. Some Activities that are especially complex will offer double credit; if so, that will be stated in the Activity question. If you select the double credit option, you must write "double credit" on your Activity AND you must develop your Activity in more depth, in order to qualify for the double credit. 

Select one or two of these Activities. Follow the directions in your Blackboard course site to complete the activities.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia

Sacrifice of Iphigenia

Sacrifice of Isaac

Sacrifice of Isaac

graphic of one chili pepper1. First, describe the character of Racine's Iphigenia, using some relevant examples from the play. Then describe the character of Eriphile, using examples. Finally, explain how Racine tries to make us feel that Eriphile deserves to die and Iphigenia deserves to live. What do you think is his main point in doing this? Use specific examples from the play to support your argument
graphic of one chili pepper2. Examine the love triangle of Iphigenia-Achilles-Eriphile in Racine's Iphigenia and describe it in some detail. Do you think Eriphile's obsession is convincing psychologically? Why or why not? Support your ideas with specific examples from the play and possibly also from people you have known and/or psychology books you have read.
3. Examine the paintings in Seventeenth Century Baroquegraphic of one chili pepper Fashion:1665-1699, and select several as possible illustrations of characters in Racine's Iphigenia. Now, describe each of those characters in detail, combining your understanding of their behavior with the costumes they are wearing. Be very specific with examples from the play as well as from the costumes.
graphic of two chili pepper4. Compare a character who appears in both Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis and Racine's Iphigenia. You can select from Iphigenia, Clytemnestra, Achilles and Agamemnon. How are the two versions of the character the same? How are they different? So what? Support your ideas with plenty of well-developed examples from both texts. Double credit: worth up to 100 points.)
graphic of two chili pepper5. First, read Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis. Then, look at Dictys and Dares, which is my brief synopsis of the ways that Dictys and Dares, two circa first century AD authors, handle the story of the sacrifice (or non-sacrifice) of Iphigenia. Finally, read Racine's Iphigenia. Now, think about the discomfort Christian audiences must have had with the stories of the pagan gods and the blood sacrifices they demanded. How do you think this discomfort affected the Christian Racine? Support your ideas with plenty of specific examples from your reading. (Double Credit: worth up to 100 points.)
graphic of two chili pepper6. Compare Iphigenia in Euripides's Iphigenia at Aulis, to Iphigenia and Eriphile in Racine's Iphigenia. Why do you think Racine added the "second Iphigenia" (Eriphile)? What is her function in the play? How does she allow Racine to "improve" the original Iphigenia? Use specific examples from both plays to support your ideas. (Double Credit: worth up to 100 points.)
7. Describe and compare the very different       graphic of two chili pepper characters of the Achilles in Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis and the Achilles in Racine's Iphigenia. What are the most interesting changes you can observe in him? Why do you think Racine has made these changes? Support your ideas with specific examples from the plays. (Double credit: worth up to 100 points.)
graphic of two chili pepper8. Read the discussion of the legend of Iphigenia in the Encyclopedia Mythica. The Greek myths were stories about their ancestors and their gods and how they related to one another. Can you see mythic qualities in Racine's Iphigenia? If so, what exactly are they? If not, what has Racine replaced them with? Do you think an ancient Princess was a kind of myth for Racine the way Iphigenia might have been a myth for Euripides? Expand your ideas on this theme and support them with specific examples from your reading of Racine's Iphigenia.
graphic of two chili pepper9. Consider the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac and compare it to the story of Iphigenia. In some versions of the Iphigenia story Artemis provides a deer at the last minute and Iphigenia is whisked away to another country. In other versions, she is actually sacrificed. Consider each story in some specific detail and then see if you get any interesting ideas about ancient concepts of sacrifice.
graphic of two chili pepper10. If you are interested in another Biblical parallel to the sacrifice of Iphigenia, read the story of Jephthah (Judges 11) in the Hebrew Bible. Jephthah, like Agamemnon, a war-leader with a tainted genealogy, also sacrifices his beloved daughter in the cause of war. Compare/contrast the story of Jephthah and his daughter to that of Agamemnon and his daughter in either Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis or Rachine's Iphigenia. Be sure to make some interesting point beyond just listing the parallels and differences. I suggest checking through some of the myth variants linked to the main Racine's (and Euripides') Iphigenia page (under Iphigenia Background) to see more parallels.
graphic of two chili pepper11. Discuss Iphigenia as a sacrificial victim in Racine's play. Do you think Iphigenia is noble to cooperate with being sacrificed or do you think she is an exploited fool? Or do you think something else about her? If you want double credit, work with more than one Iphigenia play and use specific examples from one or more plays to support your ideas, and note on your response that it is for double credit.
graphic of three chili pepper12. Make up an interesting question of your own based on exploring the Web sites and literary texts in this Area. You must submit the question to me BEFORE you start to work on it. You may only proceed if I approve it. That will protect you from wasting time on a topic that I don't feel is relevant to the purpose of the course. If you simply post a topic of your own without my approval, I will not read it and you may not redo it. Such a question, once approved, can be worth from single to double credit, depending on my judgment of the question and the thoroughness with which you address it.

Last Updated: 8/23/2015

© Thompson: 9/22/1998