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Diesmalmochteich die entscheidendeFragetun:bestehtzwischenLuge undUberzeugung

uberhauptein Gegensatz?- Alle Weltglaubtes; aberwas glaubtnichtalle Welt! - Einejede
Uberzeugunghat ihreGeschichte,ihreVorformen,ihreTentativenundFehigriffe:sie wird
Uberzeugung,nachdemsie es lange nicht ist, nachdemsie es noch langerkaumist. Wie?
konnte unter diesen Embryonal-Formen der Uberzeugungnicht auch die LUigesein? -
Mitunterbedarfes bloBeines Personen-Wechsels: im SohnUberzeugung,was im Vaternoch
LUgewar. - Ich nenne Luge: etwas nicht sehn wollen, das man sieht, etwas nicht so sehn
wollen,wie manes sieht:ob die LugevorZeugenoderohneZeugenstatthat,kommtnichtin
Betracht.Die gewohnlichsteLugeist die, mitdermansich selbstbelugt;dasBelugenanderer
Der Anti-Christ,55)
ist relativder Ausnahmefall.(F. NIETZSCHE,
This time I should like to pose the decisive question:is there any difference whatever
betweena lie anda conviction?- All the worldbelievesthereis, butwhatdoes all the world
not believe!- Everyconvictionhas its history,its preliminaryforrns,its tentativeshapes,its
blunders:it becomesa convictionafternot being one for a long time, afterhardlybeingone
for an even longer time. What? could the lie not be among these embryonicforms of
conviction?- Sometimesit requiresmerelya changein persons:in the son thatbecomesa
convictionwhich in the fatherwas still a lie. - I call a lie: wantingnot to see somethingone
does see, wantingnot to see somethingas one sees it: whetherthe lie takes place before
witnessesor withoutwitnessesis of no consequence.The mostcommonlie is thelie one tells
oneself; lying to othersis relativelythe exception.(F. NIETzSCHE, TheAnti-Christ')

Iphigenia's change of mind in >>Iphigeniaat Aulis<<was first described as an

interpretiveproblem by Aristotle, 6Eav aiXou il ev Ai)Xit
I4y?veta& ou6v y'ap TouCFV i] t wX ouaa 'riuvc;arpa. >>An example of incon-
sistency is Iphigenia at Aulis, for the supplicating Iphigenia is nothing like her
later self.< (>>Poetics?1454a332). The participle 'iiEetvoUa, >>supplicating,<
shows that Aristotle is concerned with Iphigenia's intention. First she supplicates
her father to avoid death, but later she intends that this death occur. Aristotle's
interestin characterhas stimulatedmuch scholarshipon the questionsof Iphigenia's
consistency and the motivation for her change3. Inquiry into her motivation has

I F. NIETZSCHE,Twilight of the Idols I The Anti-Christ, R. J. Hollingdale(London

1990) sec. 55, 185-6.
2 All translations
fromGreekin this essay aremy own.
3 Mostexplicitlyrespondingto Aristotleis H. FUNKE, Aristoteleszu Euripides'iphigenia in
Aulis, Hermes92 (1964) 284-299 and H. NEITZEL, IphigeniensOpfertod:Betrachtungenzur
'Iphigenie in Aulis' des Euripides,WurzburgerJahrbucherfUrdie Altertumswissenschaft 6
(1980) 61-70. Many others, however, address the problem of Iphigenia's consistency and
motivation.Foran overviewof the scholarshipsee J. GIBERT,Changeof Mindin GreekTragedy,
Hypomnemata108 (Gottingen1995) 226 ff.

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led to consideration of her internal psychological condition4, as well as to the

evaluation of the enmeshed social forces of gender and state which enforce her
conformityto a feminine nonn5. When Iphigeniadoes express her intentionto die,
she simultaneously embraces a set of convictions, adopting claims made by her
father about the value of Greek freedom and the moral necessity of protecting
Greek women from barbarianrape6.My analysis of >>I.A.<< seeks to examine the
processs of Iphigenia's adoption of these claims of value. I argue that the play
makes the process of the adoption of conviction its central theme7.My approach
tums away from the concentrationupon intention and characteremphasized by
Aristotle. The play enacts the process of the adoptionof convictions not only for
Iphigenia, but for Agamemnon and Achilles as well, with Clytemnestradramati-
cally resisting the acceptance of either claims of fact or claims of value. The
deceptions which Agamemnonpracticesupon Achilles, Clytemnestraand Iphige-
nia become entwined in these characters' nascent understandings,showing the
dangers attendantupon the formationof convictions in a world of lies.
In the epigraphwhich heads this essay Nietzsche considers the process of the
formationof a conviction from a lie. He points to the history of a conviction, >>ihre
Vorformen,ihre Tentativenund Fehlgriffe,<< directing us to consider how a firmly
held conviction about what is of value, dJberzeugungo, may develop from a less
firmly held belief in the validity of a simple factual proposition.Continuingback
throughthis process Nietzsche considers the factual lie as an instrumentcreatinga
less fixed factual belief which may evolve into a firmly fixed conviction of value.

4G. MELLERT-HOFFMANN, Untersuchungen zurIphigeniein Aulisdes Euripides,(Heidelberg

1969) 86 ff. offers a detailedconsiderationof Iphigenia'sinteriority.One line of psychological
inquiryconcernsIphigenia'spossiblemotivationthroughlove of Achilles,W. D. SMITH,Iphige-
nia in Love, in Arktouros:Hellenic StudiesPresentedto B.M.W.Knox on the Occasionof his
65th Birthday,ed. G. W. BOWERSOCKet al. (BerlinandNew York 1979) 173-80.
5 See N. S. RABINOWITZ,Anxiety Veiled: Euripidesand the Trafficin Women(Ithacaand
London, 1993) 31-38 on willing feminine sacrifice and 38-54 on this play's treatmentof
Iphigenia as a token in a systemof exchange.H. P. FOLEY, MarriageandSacrificein Euripides'
Iphigenia in Aulis, Arethusa 15 (1982) 160 comments on Iphigenia's >... attempt, by her accep-
tanceof her marriage/sacrifice, to restorepositivesignificanceto Greece'spoliticaladventures
and its religiouslife.<<M. X. ZELENAK,GenderandPoliticsin GreekTragedy(New York 1998)
133, >>Iphigenia choosesdeathin orderto savethemale.<< Onsacrificeforthe statesee J.WILKINS,
The Stateandthe Individual:Euripides'Playsof VoluntarySelf-Sacrifice,in Euripides,Women
andSexuality,ed. A. Powell (LondonandNew York 1990) 177-94.
6 B.M.W. KNOX, Second Thoughtsin Greek Tragedy,GRBS 7 (1966) 229-32 treatsthe
phenomenonof changeof intentionmorethanchangeof belief.
7 Despite the prominenceof questionsof consistencyand character,ideology has been a
crucialelementin some importantworkon the play. NEITZEL(above,n. 3: 61) quotesB. Snell,
>Iphigenie stirbtfur eine Idee, undzwarfuireine Idee, die fur die Zeit des EuripidesrechtblaB
ist.<<So, too, FUNKE(above,n. 3) andH. SIEGEL,Self-Delusionandthe Volte-Faceof Iphigeniain
Euripides'Iphigeniaat Aulis, Hernes 108 (1980) 300-321 addressIphigenia'schangeof belief,
butaremoreconcernedwith how thatchangeof belief explainsherchangeof intention.

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Lies and Convictionsat Aulis 39

Of special importfor a readingof >>I.A.<< is Nietzsche's attentionto the lie told the
self, for this kind of lie facilitates the transformationof a lie into a conviction. In
my treatment of ?I.A.? we will find several of these elements intermediate
between lie and conviction: the explicit lie told to another,the lie told to the self,
the belief in the truthof a fact claim (such as, >4Iphigenia comes to Aulis to marry
Achilles.<), the belief in a value claim (such as, ?The Trojan War is a righteous
enterprise.<o). I will reserve the term >>conviction<< to describe a belief in a claim of
value; I will limit the term ?belief< to a credence grantedonly to a claim of fact.
I begin my analysis at the end of the play, with Clytemnestraleft onstage after
the tale of Iphigenia's salvation. Clytemnestra'sintellectualdisposition, her resis-
tance to claims of fact or value, marksthis play's centralattentionto credulity and
incredulity.I then turnto Agamemnon and Achilles who enact processes of self-
deception, >>wantingnot to see something one does see, wanting not to see
something as one sees it8.<<Agamemnon's changing claims about the meaning of
the war will reveal his preferencefor a not-seeing, while Achilles' growing belief
in his marriageto Iphigeniashows his similar self-deception. Finally I will turnto
Iphigenia, whose decision to embrace a conviction of the validity of the war is an
instance of the parent's lie having become the child's conviction, whose not-
seeing enacts the transitionfrom lie to conviction in the lie told to the self9.


Following the final messenger speech Clytemnestra expresses her uncertainty

about what the messenger has said'0. The happiestpossibility, that Iphigeniamay

8 NIETZSCHE(above,n. 1).
9 As some small justificationfor employingone of the harshestcritics of Euripidesin a
sympatheticanalysisof thisplayI offerthecommentsof a mostsensitiveandinfluentialreaderof
the play, B. SNELL,Aischylos und das Handeln im Drama (Leipzig 1928)abridgedandtranslated
by W. MOSKALEWas FromTragedyto Philosophy:Iphigenia in Aulis, in OxfordReadingsin
GreekTragedyed. E. SEGAL (Oxford1983) 400 >Thecriticismwhich has been leveled against
EuripidesfromAristophanesto Nietzscheis essentiallyjustified:Euripideanartis discordantand
problematic..The best of whathas been said aboutEuripideswas utteredwith malice.Forthose
who understoodhim best did so precisely because they themselveswere also conflicted and
10Readersmay well be questioningmy interpretivedependenceuponClytemnestra'sfinal
scene, since the communis opinio holds that Euripideslikely did not compose these lines. J.
DIGGLE, EuripidesFabulae,vol. 3 (Oxford1994), now the authoritative sourcefor questionson
the text of I.A., describesthe lines from 1578 to the end of the play as >>non
transmittedtext of the play likely derives,in part,from the handof Euripides,thoughhe died
beforecompletingthe play, in part,fromthe modificationsof his son who firstproducedthe play
in 405, in part,fromactors'andproducers'interpolationscreatedfor reproductions of the play in
thefourththroughthesecondcenturiesBCEand,in part,fromthecorruptionsintroducedthrough

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have been stolen by the gods (1615), she puts in the form of a question, asking
which god it could have been. She asks how she might address the departed
Iphigenia (1616) and how she might deny that the speech she has just heard is
merely for her solace (1616-18). Her aporia, her lack of certitude,is reasonable,
given the byzantine convolutions of this play's plot". She thought she was
bringingher daughterto Aulis for a brilliantmatch with Achilles, only to find that
Agamemnon intends to kill the girl. She has watched Iphigenialament her fate in
piteous tones and then embrace it with nationalisticfervor. She has hearda tale of
sacrifice in which the victim disappears at the last possible second, though it is
merely the meager authorityof the messenger which advances the interpretation
that this disappearance is a divine reward or salvation (1608). Calchas, in his
reported direct discourse (1591-1601), described the substitutionof the hind as
evidence that the Greeks would now be able to make passage to Troy, but he
offered no interpretationof what happenedto Iphigenia. The audience may well
sympathize with Clytemnestra'sperplexity, for it too has been taken on a roller-
coaster ride throughthe play, having witnessed Agamemnon's failed attemptat a
palinodic epistle to Clytemnestra,Menelaus's unexpected change of heart, and
Agamemnon's even more unexpectedconcurrencewith Menelaus's originalposi-
As Clytemnestraand her audience thus pause in perplexity at the end of this
play, Agamemnon once again enters the stage. Unlike his puzzled wife, Agamem-
non displays conviction. He believes that his daughteris well off in the company

the subsequent history of transmission. D. L. PAGE, Actors' Interpolations in Greek Tragedy,

(Oxford 1934) 9 discusses the evidence on first production and the possible role of Euripides's
son. While it is certain that the text of l.A. includes interpolation, it remains likely that the text we
possess was used for the production of a complete play sometime in antiquity before the common
era. Since Euripidean tragedies were sometimes reproduced in part rather than in toto, some
interpolations may derive from actors or producers who were working from anthology texts
rather than from copies of the complete play. A. DIHLE, Der Prolog der 'Bacchen' und die antike
Uberlieferungsphase des Euripides-Textes in Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der
Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, abh. 2 (Heidelberg 1981) 28-38, presents
evidence for reproduction in part. See also B. GENTILI, Theatrical Performances in the Ancient
World (Amsterdam 1979) 19-30 on reproductions of portions of classical tragedies. I assume that
Euripides bequeathed to his son a version of the play adequately complete to allow the creation of
a text for original production which presented and developed the themes Euripides chose to
highlight. The final messenger speech is a passage of such magnitude and significance that it was
likely composed for a complete production, possibly the original production, by an author who
understood the themes of the remainder of the play. The author of the final messenger speech may
well have been Euripides' son, or even Euripides himself, for its themes, I argue here, are
consistent with themes developed elsewhere in the text.
I C.A.E. LUSCHNIG,Tragic Aporia: A Study of Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis (Berwick,
Australia 1988) 108 affirms that Clytemnestra alone falls outside the self-delusion which the
remaining characters present.

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Lies and Convictions at Aulis 41

of the gods, marking his truth claim with an emphatic OvTwOS (1622). He com-
mands his wife to take baby Orestes back to Argos and bids her a quick farewell as
he rushesoff to Troy. Clytemnestraspeaks no more lines following Agamemnon's
brief appearance.She does not indicate that she has acquired her own conviction
to match Agamemnon's. We who know the subsequent history of the house of
Atreus may be fairly certain that this Clytemnestradoes not share her husband's
belief that all is well. Clytemnestra's questions and her subsequent silence close
the play with the pictureof one who refuses to believe either a claim of fact or its
related claim of value. Her silence and the audience's familiarity with the usual
tale also suggest that she may have an intention to punish Agamemnon.
Earlier in the play Clytemnestrareportedon her own intellectual disposition
from a time prior to the action of the drama.Upon confrontingAgamemnon with
his lie about the purpose of Iphigenia's travel to Aulis, Clytemnestrareviews her
past history with her husband,going back to Agamemnon's courtshipof her. She
reproachesAgamemnon with having slain her previous husband,Tantalus(1 150),
and of having killed the child of that union (1 151-2) 12.She tells how Agamemnon
supplicated Tyndareus in order to secure his intercession for the terminationof
hostilities between himself and the Dioscuri (1153-6). One might expect a wife
acquired in such a violent manner to bear her husband some ill-will, and this is
surely the point of Clytemnestra's narrative. In the participle KataXXaXOteoa
(1 157) she describes the internalprocess by which she came aroundto accept the
situation;she was ))reconciled.?She had been a naturalenemy to the enemy of her
brothers,to the killer of her husband and of her child. Her father's intervention
was the crucial element, for Clytemnestrasuggests that the Dioscuri would have
been victorious over Agamemnon but for Tyndareus' acceptance of the latter's
supplication. She presents her marriageto Agamemnon as a consequence of the
political accommodationbetween Tyndareusand Agamemnon, a familial alliance
to soothe the rancorof a bloody feud. In the interestof a higher good the recently
widowed Clytemnestraput aside her anger and became a good wife to Agamem-
non (1 159-61).
Clytemnestra's narrativereveals that she has accommodateda good determi-
ned by her father. She is telling Agamemnon (and the audience) a tale about her
own priorcompliance. She was willing to act in a certain way, to be a good wife,
but she did not adopt a false belief about her marriage.She has always known that
her husband is the murdererof her child and first husband. She is proud of her

12 C. E. SORUM, Myth,
Choice, and Meaning in Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis, AJP 1 13 (1992)
538 reads Clytemnestra's evocation of her first marriage as an allusion to her actions depicted in
Aeschylus' Agamemnon. J. GRIFFIN, Characterization in Euripides: Hippolytus and Iphigenia at
Aulis, in Characterization and Individuality in Greek Literatureed. C. PELLING (Oxford 1990) 146
sees this original detail of Clytemnestra's acceptance of Agamemon's earlier child murder as
marking out her more violent response to the killing of Iphigenia.

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successful self-control and of her performanceof her wifely duties without any
lingering hostility to her first husband'skiller, but she narratesthese details to hurt
Agamemnon (1 148), and the point of her tale is to suggest that she has already
performeda service for Agamemnonwhich is hardlyworthyof a repaymentin the
form of the slaughter of a second of her children. Euripides here presents to his
audience a detail of Clytemnestra's history which is hardly standard.That Aga-
memnon has killed a child by a previous marriage, indeed, that there was a
previous marriage at all, comes as a surprise'3. Does the audience accept
Clytemnestra'sclaim that her reconciliationto Agamemnon is a virtue?Since she
now understandsa threatto her second child, mustn't Clytemnestrareproachher
own disregardfor the behaviorof her husbandtowardsher first child? That is, this
tale of Clytemnestra's >>courtship<< by Agamemnon suggests that a conformityof
the mind to a necessary circumstancemay be neitherheroic nor prudent.In facing
the death of Iphigenia,Clytemnestrais discovering the price for her priorcompli-
ance and demonstratingthat she did not accompany that earlier change in her
intentionto act in a certain way with a correlativechange in what she believed to
be true. She never adopted a belief that her marriage had been grounded in
anythingotherthanpolitical accommodation.Clytemnestrais the play's paradigm
for incredulity,even in the face of a compliance in behaviour.


Agamemnon's final speech (1621-26) is the first time in the play he has appeared
to possess a firm conviction. The prologue, whetherwe place the dialogic portion
before or after the rhesis, shows the highest degree of Agamemnon's intellectual
lability. Waxing philosophic on the causes of his misery he proposes two dangers
TOT?g?V T&z oe6vK 6pOt)O&Vr'
av?tpr/SY ,Biov, ToTr6' dvOpdMnOv
yv6Iact noUat
Kat 8ixapcsatot bEKvacOav.

Sometimes the matters concerning the gods, not kept upright, overturn a life, sometimes the
opinions of humans, which are many and difficult to satisfy, tear it to pieces.

The formerof these two dangers is rathervague, but could include any misfortune
which gets sent our way. The latterdanger, that which arises from human rather
than divine agency, is ideologic. Part of the problem is the pluralityof gnomai,

13 FOLEY (above, n. 5: 163) calls this tale of a marriage to Tantalus Euripides's invention. The

marriage to Tantalus, a son of Thyestes, appears in Apollodorus (Epitome 2. 16) but not in any
sources prior to the date of original production, 405 BCE.

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Lies and Convictions at Aulis 43

because several gnomai may be in conflict with one another. Agamemnon's

position as king is especially troublesome because people's gnomai may be
6ua6psaxot, >>difficultto satisfy.< Their ideological convictions may entail im-
practicaldemands. This danger posed by human gnomai is here comparedto the
danger posed by divine obligations which have not been properlymaintained, [xa
OEdvoUii o'p00@evr',?the mattersconceming the gods, not kept upright,<< (24).
That is, the dangersfacing Agamemnon which have arisenfrom the convictions of
humans are comparableto the dangers arising from those divinities who may be
equally >>difficultto satisfy.<<Agamemnon thus opens the play by expressing his
awareness of the dangers of conviction. Agamemnon's credulity in this play
moves from this statement's awareness of danger to his final cheerful acceptance
of Iphigenia's divine salvation and concurrentdisregardfor the dangers posed by
Clytemnestra'sresidual anger'4.
The early Agamemnon does see that the sacrifice of Iphigenia is wrong. Once
Calchas reports that her sacrifice will bring about the sailing to Troy and its
overthrow (89-93), Agamemnon immediately ordered Talthybius to disband the
army (94-96). Only after this initial rejection does Menelaus persuadeAgamem-
non to dare this terrible action (97-98). The passage shows no evidence that
Agamemnon is lying to himself, but he immediately lies to Clytemnestra,clai-
ming thatIphigeniais to come to Aulis to marryAchilles. This lie is Agamemnon's
first step towardhis own formationof a conviction that it will be a good thing for
lphigenia to come to Aulis. In his ago-n with Menelaus Agamemnon takes the
next. He initially refutes Menelaus's claims upon Iphigenia by reference to the
problems in the marriageof Helen and Menelaus. As he tums to the political and
military obligations to sacrifice Iphigenia he addresses the oath of Tyndareus
which the suitors of Helen swore and he explains that oaths are not absolutely
binding (394a-395),
Akkx c-
ov) yap doavvrrov t6 0clov, oavi?vac
TOV5 Ktatcarnlvay1cacTg9vou;.
1Ca1C4gay&va; OPKQThS

The divine is not stupid, but is able to understand the oaths made badly and under compulsi-

Such discernmenton the partof the deity suggests a startlingfluidity in the order
of things. Aristophanes,were he a textual critic, might rejoice to assign these lines
to the hand of Euripideshimself, for the comedian never failed to take pleasure in
mocking Euripides for i yXr 6gWiiioX', i 6e OpiTvxv'oto, >My tongue
swore but my heart remained unsworn.< >>Hipp<<. 612, cf. Aristophanes, ?>Th.<<
275, >Fr.< 101, 1471. Agamemnon's affirmationof the flexibility of obligation to
oath expresses an epistemology in conflict with the rigidity of conviction and its

14 H. SIEGEL, Agamemnon in Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis, Hermes 109 (1981) 257-65

argues that fear is Agamemnon's overriding motivation.

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certaintyaboutvalue. In the next line Agamemnonaffirmshis plan of action, tc6a'

6' oV6KdtnoK'rcv`(i 'y F
tEKva, >> will not kill my children.< (396), but this claim lies
in the realm of his intentions about a future action ratherthan in his beliefs about
what is true. He who is denying the obligation of oaths is making no belief claim
here, so we can read his intention as a response to local conditions ratherthan as
evidence of a belief. As the stichomythia advances following Agamemnon's
speech, Menelaus calls upon his brother to share his woes, but Agamemnon
rejects this petition (408-9). Then Menelaus suggests that Agamemnon ought to
share the woes of Greece, ouK apa 8oicCi 0otd6OE n ovetv(yiv v 'EXXd8&;
it seem best to you to share these toils with Greece?< (410). This shift from the
personal to the political constitutes an invitationfrom Menelaus for Agamemnon
to consider the sacrifice of Iphigenia in terms of its value. Underlying this
question is a transcendentmoral imperative; Greeks (especially Agamemnon)
ought to subordinate their private advantage to the public good. Agamemnon
again resists the ideological tug, answeringthatGreece is diseased, 'EXX&x;& CiUv
7o0t ica-ac Oe-6vvoai twva. >>Greece,along with you, is sickened by some god.<
(411) This marks the climax of the agon, with Agamemnon having resisted
Menelaus's call to determinehis actions according to conviction of a highergood
and rejectingthe claim thatGreece itself must constitutea highest good. The agon
has been structuredto demonstrateAgamemnon's active resistanceto accepting a
conventional patrioticideology. His intention,to resist sacrificing his daughter,is
bolstered by his freedom from a conviction of the value of the fatherlanditself.
The fragility of Menelaus's proposed patriotic conviction becomes evident
when he is faced with Agamemnon's tears for the coming death of his daughter
(477). The private bond between the brothersbrings about Menelaus's retraction
(479), and the audience sees that his earlier advancementof the public good may
have been, if not a lie, at least a tenuously held conviction. Agamemnon's tears
have helped Menelaus to see the situation as it is, free of the conviction of a
patrioticideal, and his rhesis eloquently articulatesthe truthswhich Agamemnon
has already advanced. Menelaus's adoption of Agamemnon's understandingis
well reflected in his adoption of some of his terminology. Menelaus says, 6XX'
cao=XEa; &6BX4ov,ov j' il'K1cTa xpiv, / 'EXv&ivCiXwgat,T6 caic6v &vti tac-
yaOou; >>Having destroyed my brother,whom I ought least to harm,would I take
Helen, an evil in exchange for a good?<<(487-8), picking up on Agamemnon's
earlier language in (71) gaXXov, ortl; noXocaa; KWaKov X?Xo; / &vaXafktv
OEXEt;,OE-oiT ot Tq1vt1Xnv &6vto; ED. >>You, having lost a bad wife, prefer to
take her up again, though the god is giving you good luck in the loss.< (389-90).
But it is Agamemnon's reversal of position, even more than Menelaus's, which
reveals that a conviction of value has been rejected in favor of a pragmatic
intention. Accepting the death of his daughter, Agamemnon does not match
Menelaus's adoption of his opponent's rhetoric. He does not advance the claim
that Iphigenia must die for the greater good of Greece. He only admits that her

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Lies and Convictions at Aulis 45

death will happen,willy-nilly, so he'd betteryield to the irresistiblenecessity. The

driving force behind Iphigenia's sacrifice is Odysseus. Agamemnon anticipates
that the Sisyphean liar, called lotiko;, >>changeable< at 526, will rouse the army
against him and even lead an assault upon the Cyclopean walls at Argos in his zeal
for Iphigenia'sdestruction(528-535). So much for pan-Hellenicpatriotism.Mene-
laus points out the obvious, that Odysseus is not driven by love of Greece but by
love of honor, Xt?ortVijt g&vEvE'XFat,>>Heis held by love of honor.o (527). This
reveals that Agamemnon is seeing matters as they are, that he is not blinded by
conviction. It is crucial that this clear-thinking Agamemnon has accepted the
necessity for the death of Iphigenia, for he thus reveals that an intention for the
death of Iphigenia need not carry as a necessary correlative a conviction of the
justice of the war.
The ag5n has established that it is a lie to call this Trojan war a patriotic and
moral necessity for the good of Greece, though Agamemnon has adopted the
position that the war is a practical necessity. In his initial stichomythia with
Iphigenia newly arrived at Aulis Agamemnon discusses the coming war. The
intellectual dispositions of each character illustrate a tension between lie and
conviction. Agamemnon is aware of his own deception of his daughter,suppres-
sing groans and speakingwith a patheticdouble consciousness. Iphigeniapresents
the naivete of one who cannot conceive that her father could lie to her. More
crucially for my argument, her naivete forecloses the possibility of belief or
conviction. Her love for her fatherand her concern for her family's good lead her
to devalue all truthclaims. Iphigenia asks her father where the Phrygians dwell
(662). His vague reply leaves room for Iphigenia to express the point of her
question. She was not asking for a lesson in politics, but for an understandingof
how far her fatherwas to traveland for how long he might be away from her (664).
She doesn't really care aboutthe great wide world, for at this point in the play she
is blissfully free from conviction. The text directs our attentionto the characters'
intellectual orientationsin a telling exchange (653-4),
Ay. a-vvEta Xryoxssa gdXXov ci; otlcTov p dyEt;.
1. aaijveta vX)v Epol4t)V, t GE y' Et4pavo.

Ag. Saying reasonable things you bring me more to pity.

Iph. Then I will speak unreasonable things, if then I shall please you.

Describing her words as cruv6a, >>reasonable,<Agamemnon suggests to the

audience that she values what is valuable; she is not burdened by any false
conviction thatthis war is something thatmatters.Her reply embracesthe value of
what is unreasonable,when that brings delight to one she loves. Public matters
don't matter.Iphigenia goes on to make this explicit in line 658, 6oktv'o k6yXat
MxMcv'XE KcaZKL,>>Maythe spears and Menelaus's woes perish.? wishing
away all that takes her father from her, regardless of the ideologies which may
have been developed to treatthis cause as good or trueor just. Agamemnon closes

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this stichomythiawith a final referenceto the contrastbetween Iphigenia'sand his

own intellectual orientations, CX6Moc jiXakXovri ' grou6TiO&6cv Opov?tv. ?I envy
you ratherthan myself for having nothing on your mind.< (677). Iphigeniahas a
desirablecapacity to hold nothing in her mind, while Agamemnonis burdenednot
only with his knowledge of what must happen and his own role in that, but also
with his awareness that these public political actions include an intellectual
component. He must think. He must consider values, though he is awarethat what
is valuable, his daughter, is about to be sacrificed for something which is not
valuable, this war about to be waged for a worthless woman. He envies his
daughter's intellectualorientationbecause she is free from obligations to perform
evaluation. She is free from convictions.
Once Iphigenia discovers she is to be killed, she remains free of convictions,
pleading with Agamemnon in simple terms of self-preservation.She points out
that Paris and Helen have nothing to do with her (1236-7) and begs for life.
Agamemnon's response (1255-75) provides the ideological tuming point for the
play. He slips seamlessly between lie and conviction so that it is uncertainwhat he
may himself believe to be true or to be of value. His opening lines confirm his
capacity for pity and his love of his children. Next he states his dilemma, in terms
familiar from Aeschylus' >Agamemnon.? Here his options are cast as perfor-
mance and non-performance of an action, &1ivCo; 6' 'E* got tcxct ta TokX.Tiat,
yiUvat,/ 68tv6S 6E iKa jifr ?It is dreadful for me to dare these things, wife, and
dreadful not to.< (1257-8). He is caught between the tragic rock and the hard
place. Like Aeschylus' Agamemnon, this king fixes quickly upon a course of
action, completing line 1258 with his declarationthat he must act. Explainingthe
necessity which compels him, Agamemnon emphasizes the magnitude of the
army which awaits his action (1259-62, using DIGGLE'S text which includes a
transpositionin these lines). In 1264 Agamemnon evokes the complex image of
an Aphrodite which has maddened the Greek army with a desire to sail against
Troy (1264-6),

pgjiive 5 A0po8irq Tni EXXfvwv atpazr&

nkitV X) taTXGTa ,kapkdpcov tid X0ova,
itaioaa Te k4hctpwv pnay&; 'EkXflvKcC6v

Some Aphrodite has maddened the army of the Greeks to sail at once against the land of the
barbarians and to stop the seizures of Greek brides.

The initial verb suggests that Agamemnon regardsthis desire as delusional. It is a

passion which has come upon the armyagainst reason. Agamemnonsuggests that
the desire is a fundamentalmistake, an intentionwhich has no groundingin truth.
The army intendsto sail againstTroy and to stop the seizures of Greek brides.The
first of these two intentions is simple, not necessarily involving any claim of
value. The army could be desiring to sail against Troy for amusementor greed or
whatever.The second element, line 1266, adds a conviction to the intention.With
this line Agamemnon affirms that the army considers the expedition against Troy

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Lies and Convictionsat Aulis 47

to be of value in preventing future rapes. The line also carries a secondary

conviction that the army has a moral obligation to prevent rapes by means of war.
In these lines Agamemnon is suspended in the midst of his own changing ideas
about the moraljustification for the coming war. The use of 'AOpo&trr1 ti;, >>some
Aphrodite,<invites us to consider the erotic natureof the army's desire. Achilles
had used a similar expression in conversation with Clytemnestra, ovrw 8sitv;o
eE1 TWK' ?po); / fa6& a'paw?ia; 'EXX66'ova dvEu 0O6v. >>Adreadful desire
for this warfare has fallen upon Greece, not without the action of the gods.<
(808-9). The metaphoreasily suits a war fought to retrievean errantwife, but each
expression treatsthe army itself as the subject of desire, as though this collectivity
possessed the lust of an individual.The Greeks shareonly a passion for warfarein
Achilles' line, but Agamemnon's 1266 suggests that the army holds the convic-
tion thattheir actions could and should prevent subsequentbarbarianviolations of
Greek womanhood. An army impassioned for battle is quite a different sort of
army from one impassioned to achieve a purpose;the formerhas an intention,the
latter a conviction. Agamemnon's speech is moving toward a presentationof the
role of such a conviction in motivating this army. In this context he postulates an
unknowable future possibility. He presents a claim about what will happen
oi r&;?v 'ApyE?tnapeEvoiu itSvoLK7i go0
R)pAi Te lcd, 0?aoat eXO)
ei O&a5;.

They will kill my childrenin Argos, and you and me, if I shall undo the oracles of the

Menelaus and Agamemnon have already discussed the possibility of the army
attackingArgos (532-5); this was partof Agamemnon's earlier groundfor decla-
ring the death of Iphigenia a necessity. He now communicates this to Clytemnes-
tra, though here, in the context of line 1266, this threat to Argos appears to be
motivated by an ideological interestin protectingGreek womanhood.The expres-
sion ftcyoa?' ?i Xi0'awOsa;, >>ifI shall undo the oracles of the goddess,< (1268)
recalls Agamemnon's earlier rejection of the obligations of oaths (394a-395).
Though Agamemnon is describingthe feared action of the army, the oracles are of
Artemis, and the army's angeracts in supportof her presumedanger.Agamemnon
shows that he believes that Artemis demands the sacrifice of Iphigenia for the
expedition to Troy, but his description of the army as impassioned suggests that
the expedition to Troy may not be groundedin any moral good beyond obedience
to the divine.
The climactic ideological claim now closes Agamemnon's speech as he decla-
res that Greece herself compels his action (1269-75),
ov MEvXe6Cq>e caKa6QX6o6)XO3XOLat,
oEIU t6 KEiVou)oVuXO6Evov AXvX1u0a,
fl 6eI, Kav
aAA E?~X6a, EXo) Kcav ij 0r.o,

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ORiaaiae ToVTou6' iacoveq caOaCyTapwv.

?Xeipav yap 6Ct vtv ooov tv aoi, TECVoV,
dagol yev*aOat, gT6e ,apfripcov ivo
'EXXIlva;6vcaq kXiKpa cx)aAOaL, dia.

Menelaus has not enslaved me, child, nor have I come to do his bidding, but Greece, to whom
it is necessary that I sacrifice you, whether I wish it or not. We are less than this necessity. For
it is necessary that she be free, child, as far as that lies within your power and mine, and that
Greeks not be violently robbed of their wives by barbarians.

These lines are inconsistent with the idea that A4po6i-rrt t;, >>someAphrodite,<<
has maddened the army. Here Agamemnon appears to accept the conviction that
this war is a moral necessity15. The freedom of Greece is a good higher than the
preferences of Agamemnon or Iphigenia, but the obligation to serve Greece is a
personal servitude, ,U? ara&c68o(Xrorat, >>hasenslaved me,< ( 1269). Is Agamem-
non lying to himself or to Clytemnestra and Iphigenia? I suggest that this speech
portrays the process of the formation of a conviction for Agamemnon. He is
converting the lie that he has no agency in determining what will happen to
Iphigenia into a belief that Iphigenia must die by bolstering his intention to kill her
with a justifying claim for the value of that action. Perhaps he has not quite
finished the job of the formation of a conviction, or perhaps it awaits another mind
for its completion. Perhaps his newly-minted conviction helps him avoid seeing
the anny's amorality which he had earlier described. I refer the reader to the
epigraph which heads this essay.


Achilles shows a movement from lie to conviction which similarly involves

wanting not to see what he sees. After he has learned that his name has been used
by Agamemnon to lure Iphigenia to Aulis on the pretext of a wedding (884, 898),
he declares to Clytemnestra that he will protect the girl on the grounds that she has
been called his bride (935-7),
KOVJtOT?KOpfl om~
ipo; iaTpo; cfrayiaErat,
E11 0ats0et1< 01.)yap ?1Ex?Ketlv nxOKa;
-yo nap~o aCPn664_t?o'6v 84ta;.

Your girl will never be slaughtered by her father, she called mine. For I will not provide my
person to your husband for weaving his frauds.

15 SIEGEL(above, n. 14: 264) calls Agamemnon's final position a self-deception, >)Thislie of

Agamemnon's, this self-deception, which is similar to what Iphigenia seems to undergo...< See
F. M. BLAIKLOCK, The Male Characters of Euripides (Wellington 1952) 116 on Agamemnon's
self-deception and ambition.

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Lies and Convictionsat Aulis 49

He is motivated by indignationthat his name has been so used, but he also cannot
deny a central aspect of the lie, namely that she has been betrothedto him, if only
in name, Fi Oaxtat6Ea',>>shecalled mine<<(936). That is, in his anger that his
name has been used for a lie, he protects Iphigenia by accepting the obligations
which were groundedonly in the lie itself.'6 Achilles has formulatedhis intended
action, the defense of Iphigenia, on the basis of a claim which he knows to be
false, thathe is betrothedto Iphigenia.If Achilles is to follow the process outlined
for Agamemnon above, we may expect his beliefs to develop into conformity with
his intention. He will come to believe that he is actually to marryIphigenia.
Achilles closes his long rhesis (918-74) by describing a movement from lie to
conviction which involves the refutationof a lie. He says that he has appearedto
be a god to Clytemnestra,though he was not. He promises that he will become a
god, nevertheless,0?0q E6y6 w rOTvasot / g?ytcTo;, Oi'iKd6v 6aX' 6o'Rx yevioo-
[tat. >>I
have seemed the greatestgod to you, though not, in fact, being a god. But,
nevertheless, I shall become a god.<<(973-4). Here Achilles recognizes the diffe-
rence between being, ou'c &'v,and seeming, iTva', and vows to bring the being
into conformity with the seeming. Since the false appearancewas of Achilles as a
god, his promise to bring reality into conformity with appearancecarries a touch
of hybris, even for the son of Thetis. Achilles's confidence in his own greatness is
as repugnantas his earlier willingness to lend his name to Agamemnon's deceit
(962-7). In each case he is respondingto a lie. Had Agamemnon treatedhim with
the properdeference, he would have joined into the lie. Now that he has not, he
promises to make a falsehood into a truth.Achilles has a conviction, of sorts, but it
is hardto see what it is beyond himself; we might call this an idiopathicideology.
As the noble, if somewhat dimwitted, Achilles reaches for a gnome to confirrn
his intention to protect Iphigenia, he offers a wish about his own death (1006-7),
WIE_161 XEYOv 8& Kcal )arJAV EyKFp?ORIOV,
ivotp- ghl uvotgt &, iv acxow K6Opilv.

Speakingfalse andmockingin vain, may I die;

But may I not die if I shall save the girl.

This certainly appearsto include an absolute commitmentto the value of veracity,

but I would like to suggest an ironic reading. The second wish, constituting the
bulk of line 1007, may be readas a wish which would overridethe priorwish. That
is, Achilles wishes that he may die if he lies, but that this wish would not go into

16FOLEY(above,n. 5: 162)follows P. RouSSEL,Le Role d'Achilledans

l'I.A.,REG28 (1915)
234-50 (esp. 240-44) in arguingthatAchillesacceptshis role as bridegroomat once becausethe
engagement,enguesis, >>was tantamountto marriageand a bindingagreementeven withoutthe
marriageceremony.<< Despite the public obligationsentailedby the betrothal,the fact remains
thatAchilleshasneverconsentedto the marriage(justas he neverconsentedto the lie). Thusdoes
Achilles'sdeepeningcommitmentto Iphigenia,outlinedbelow,presentthe processof lie become
reality,as FOLEY, 163, admits,>>Asthe fictionalmarriagebetweenAchilles and Iphigeniatakes
on an ever-increasingreality...<

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effect if he saves the girl. Achilles has already accepted the obligation to defend
Iphigenia because she has been called his, ?Wi 4actctOEio', ))she called mine<<
(936). That is, he has shaped his own intended actions into conformity with
Agamemnon's fictional betrothal.Achilles knows that the betrothalwas a lie, but
he acts as though it has a binding force upon him. In this action Achilles slips
between truth and lie, acting as though the lie were true, but knowing that it is
false. Such an ambiguous relation to an absolute veracity may be described as
laTlqv eyKSprtogov ))mocking in vaino<(1006).
Achilles demonstratesthe next step towardconviction in his final appearance
on stage. As he reportsto Clytemnestrathe army's uproarfor Iphigenia's slaugh-
ter, he tells of his own failed attemptsto control the crowd; even his Myrmidons
have tumed against him (1353). Achilles relays the following dialogue with the
army (1354-7),
AX. 01oi1 TOV
6vLyORv (X7EKcXo1uv ijaaova. KX. 6MEKpivco ? X1;
AX. TTfV?TV g?XXOuOaV ei)VTV RNir KTaV v... KA. &iKclat yap.
AX. iv i4nllIaeV raTrtp iot. KA. cai Apy6ofv y' *x*gjaro.
AX. dXX?VticOJT1V KecpaygoU.

Ach. They called me the servant of the marriage. Clyt. And what did you say?
Ach. Not to kill my intended bride... Clyt. That is right.
Ach. Whom her father betrothed to me. Clyt. And brought from Argos.
Ach. But I was conquered by their roar.

The army reproachesAchilles with being subordinateto the marriage,for he has

so adoptedthe fiction as his own truththathe is willing to resist the collective will
of the soldiers. Achilles then adds that he asked the army not to kill his intended
bride (1355); intendedby whom? Does 1355 suggest that Achilles would actually
marry Iphigenia if she survives the army's passions? Is Achilles joining
Agamemnon's fiction of an intendedwedding, just as he said he would (965-7) if
he had been properly asked? Or has Achilles come to believe in his own future
wedding to Iphigenia?Line 1356 shows Clytemnestraand Achilles sharingin the
little fiction, describing how Agamemnon promised her to Achilles and sent for
her from Argos. Both charactersshow an interestin convertingthis lie into a truth,
Achilles to protecthis honor, Clytemnestrato protecther daughter.
Achilles and Clytemnestra's dialogue soon moves to the plans for Achilles'
final defense of Iphigenia, with Clytemnestraasking what will happenand Achil-
les making dispositions for the girl's protection. Here too Achilles' belief is hard
eyd arrow vtv. >>ButI will
to pin down. He says that he will check Odysseus, a&XX
hold him.<<(1364). Perhapsthe ?best of the Achaeans? actuallybelieves he will be
able to resist an Odysseus backed by the entire army, but his subsequentlines do
not demonstrateabsolute confidence. He anticipatesthat Odysseus will success-
fully seize Iphigeniaby the hair,(1366), and thatthe entireaffairmay likely end in
Iphigenia's slaughter, a'XXX ,iiiv E'; tOir6 y' ijeit. >>Butit will come to this.<<
(1368). It appearsthatAchilles has not quite been able to convince himself thathe

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Lies and Convictionsat Aulis 51

will be able to resist the Argive army, but he remains willing to give it a try. Such
enthusiasm,even in the face of likely failure, shows thatAchilles does believe that
his futile action is the right thing to do. His belief in his own future marriageto
Iphigenia, his belief in a chance of successfully resisting the Greek army and his
conviction thathe really ought to be acting as he is combine to presentan Achilles
who is strugglingto develop a system of beliefs which can accommodateboth the
lie told about him and the intention to protect Iphigenia which he developed in
response to the lie. Like Agamemnon before him, Achilles is in the process of
forming beliefs which will enable him to avoid seeing the truthshe understands
and which will thus justify his intention to proceed as he has planned.
Achilles' labile belief system is happily resolved following Iphigenia's speech
of acceptance, for he greets her willingness to die by projecting a happy future
which her speech has just renderedimpossible (1404-5),
'Aycagvovo; nltl, gaicaptov R t; OeCov
e?keXE "OitV, Ti iX?tot OaV yaiO)V.

Childof Agamemnon,someoneof the gods will makeme blessed,

if I am luckyenoughto marryyou.

Achilles now believes, after a fashion, in the lie of the marriageto Iphigenia.The
conditional clause is suitably vague for a most unlikely future possibility, and
Achilles sounds most enthusiasticabout the marriageto Iphigenianow that it does
not appearto be a reality. The process of Achilles' belief formationis as complete
as it will become now that the lie of Agamemnon has been internalized by
Achilles' lie to himself.
We have already seen Agamemnon appearto come to the conviction that the
war waged for a bad woman, the war which he called a case of madness, is
actually a noble defense of Greek womanhood. Now we have seen Achilles come
to a belief in the fact of his own possible marriage to Iphigenia, though he
understandsthatmarriageto have been Agamemnon's lie, and thoughhe has been
deeply offended that his name was employed without his knowledge. In neither
case did the charactermake a swift transitionfrom lie to credulity and in neither
case can we say that the understanding, be it Agamemnon's value claim or
Achilles' fact claim, has become tenaciously rooted.These characters'intellectual
lability, their tendencies to generate claims which validate their intentions by the
transformationof a lie, has provided a paradigmfor the metamorphosisof lie into
conviction for the play, but it remains for Iphigeniato presentthe most pitiful and
unselfconscious version of the process of the formationof a conviction.


Agamemnon's last words, 1271-5, explained that Iphigenia's death will keep
Greece free and will protect Greek women from the threatof barbarianrape. Not

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only will Iphigenia conform her intention to what must be (1375), but she will
adopt the value claims which have been used to justify her death (1378-84),
ci; ?f EXXAAai gwyioaT nacaa viv nol3X4te,
K6av?jpoi npOpjio TEvaQOvKaW (DpJyo.)VKQaTaKCaEai
Td; T? i?cXXOi5a; yuvaiica;, iv Tt 6pixG ldplapot,
gqKEOapiac,tv rev tTa;t o?4iia; r4 Ekc6?o;,
T6v EXAvq;TciaavTa; 6xOEpov,fv dvipnaae?v Hcipi;.
taita ndvtca KaTOavOvbca 0aojiot, KaiOIOl) KXO;,
EXX56) & iX?O)O?pwxa,jawCaptovyEvicartTa.

All of greatHellasnow looks towardme, in me lies the passageof the shipsandthe sackof
the Phrygians,andon me it dependsno moreto allow seizuresof futurewives fromfortunate
Greece,if thebarbariansdo anysuchthing,andon me dependsthepunishmentfortheruinof
Helen, whom Paris snatched.Dying I shall make all these things right,and it will be my
happyfamethatI freedGreece.

None of this is new. Iphigenia's justifications for her own death derive from
earlier statements, some she heard on stage, some she did not. Let us begin with
Iphigenia's ideological conception of Hellas, here in 1378 the subjectof a verb of
seeing, nearly anthropomorphizedin Iphigenia's speech'7. The pan-Hellenic na-
ture of the expedition, emphasized from early in the play, is based on the oath of
Tyndareus (52, 62-65, 77)18. In the parodos, recounting the leadership of the
Atreidae, the chorus begins the personificationof Hellas as a being who will exact
penalty from the barbarianrapists (272). ReproachingAgamemnon for his aban-
donmentof the cause, Menelausdevelops the personificationof Hellas by expres-
sing pity for her (370), by making her the subject of an intention (371), and by
imagining her shame at the abandonmentof the expedition (372). Rising to his
climactic argumentfor Agamemnon's responsibility to Greece, he suggests that
his brotherought to share her sufferings (410). To this Agamemnon offers the
reply, 'EXX'a;6E aiv oot icaax Oc'ov voa&t tva. >>Greece,along with you, is
sickened by some god.<<(411), accepting the personification, but characterizing
Hellas in quite a differentway. The theme of Greece's insanityoccurs again on the
lips of Achilles (808-9) and of Agamemnon ( 1264). The characterHellas has thus
been evoked by Menelaus and the Chorus to construct a conviction of patriotic
devotion, but by Achilles and Agamemnon to undermine the validity of that
patriotism for the present expedition. When Iphigenia envisions Hellas as an
entity looking hopefully toward her for salvation she adopts a conviction which
has already been problematizedas a lie earlier in the play.

17 The noun Hellas appears in the l.A. with greater frequency than in any other Euripidean

play: Al. 1, Med. 4, Hcld. 5, Hipp. I, Andr. I1, Hec. 2, Cyc. 1, Supp. 8, Her. I1, Tr. 16, Ion 4, I.T.
19, El. 4, Hel. 16, Phoe. 4, Or. 15, /.A. 26, Bacc. 6.
18 SIEGEL(above, n. 7: 303) addresses the Panhellenic nature of the expedition and refutes

prior claims that the play advocates Panhellenism.

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Lies and Convictionsat Aulis 53

The second major element of Iphigenia's new set of convictions is her claim
that the war will rightly prevent future wife-stealing (1380-82),
TaeTgeXkouoa; yxvaiKiaq, iv Tt 6p6at PdplapoI,
gpK?0' &pn,6aetveav tt&;t 6Xoiac;? EXX66o;,
T6v E'Evi teioavra; 6xO0pov,iv avrpnaacoev
[andon me it depends]no moreto allow seizuresof futurewives fromfortunateGreece,if
the barbariansdo any suchthing,[andon me depends]the punishmentfor the ruinof Helen,

The assumption that the present expedition against the Trojans will punish them
for the recent rape of Helen and prevent subsequent assaults on Greek woman-
hood depends upon the claim that Paris did, in fact, snatch Helen, as Iphigenia
asserts at the end of the passage quoted above. In Agamemnon's first narrativeof
the rape of Helen he uses the expression ?tavapndaa; >>havingsnatched away,<
(75) with which Iphigenia's language here is consistent. But Agamemnon's
narrative included the seductive charms of Paris which acted upon Helen's
chastity, avOqp6; jiev tidrtowv aroXo1/ XP6 6T ?gaTpt; apAap, x?6#wat,
>>bloomingin the fashion of his garments and bright with gold and barbaric
luxury,< (73-4), while Iphigenia paints Helen as only a victim, 6v. EXvn;...
O6xOpov,>>theruin of Helen,< (1382). Though the distinction between rape and
seduction may be anachronisticfor ancient Greece, subsequentcharacterizations
of Helen by Agamemnon and Clytemnestracertainly emphasize her worthless-
ness as the basis for a war in defense of feminine virtue. Agamemnon reproaches
Menelaus with having controlled his bad wife poorly (382-4). Clytemnestra is
unambiguousabout her sister's fault, calling this bad wife a poor exchange for a
beloved daughter (1169-70) and explicitly identifying her as a guilty party, i 6'
ct~aaptoiiI', >>the one having greatlyerred,<< ( 1204). These comments on Helen's
culpability suggest that the Greek army can punish barbarians,but may not
thereby be addressingthe problem of errantwives.
Of Iphigenia'sjustifications for her own death none is more purely ideological
than her invocation of freedom as a value for which this war ought to be fought,
EXX6a'& ik?vOwa, I freed Greece,<<(1384). The only priorappearance
of the theme of Greek freedom occurs in Agamemon's final speech (1273). So
crucial is this idea for Iphigenia that it appearsin the final word of her speech of
acceptance, kappakpow 6' EXriva; apx&tv Eito;, aiXk ov Pappa'pou;,/ ijtep,
'EXXivwvvIO ?v y'ap 6oiXov, o0i6' ?5U'Opot. ?It is proper for Greeks to rule
barbarians,mother, but not for barbariansto rule Greeks; the barbarianis servile,
the Greeks are free.< (I 400-1). lphigenia has been often praisedfor the freedom of
her action19.This Iphigenia is not gagged and bound upon the altar;she chooses

19 Interpretations of Iphigenia's self-sacrifice as noble may be represented by A. LESKY,

Greek Tragic Poetry, tr. M. DILLON,(New Haven 1983) 364, and by D. J. CONACHER,Euripidean
Drama; Myth, Theme and Structure (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1967) 263, who read

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her sacrifice for the good of her country20.The notion of freedom didn't make
much sense when Agamemnon first advancedit in 1273, but as an unquestionable
positive value, like motherhoodor Greek apple pie, it operatedas justification for
a war or the death of a daughter.In the mouth of Iphigenia, bound as she is by
military, political, familial and now ideological necessity, it is a harsh irony21.
Agamemnon had earlierdenied thatMenelaus had enslaved him, but affirmedthat
Hellas had done so (1269-71); thus have Hellas and slavery been previously
associated, despite Iphigenia's claim that barbariansare slaves and Greeks free.
Iphigenia's change of intentionoccurs suddenly with her mid-line interruption
of Achilles (1368). Her rhesis expressing the change of intentionalso includes her
expression of a set of convictions. In Iphigenia's case the process of the formation
of convictions has been abrupt,though we have witnessed a similar process at
much slower speed for Agamemnon and Achilles. The men created their under-
standings out of lies to bolster an intention. In that context must we understand
Iphigenia's adoption of her convictions.


Iphigenia's sudden acceptance of her own sacrifice is embedded in a text

which offers an Agamemnonand an Achilles who take propositionsoffered as lies
and convert them into convictions more or less securely held. When Iphigenia

Iphigenia'schangeof heartas in supportof a noblenationalideal.A similarview canbe foundin

the earlierBritishtraditionrepresentedby G. NORWOOD, GreekTragedy(London1920)288.
20 D. SANSONE, IphigeniaChangesHer Mind,Illinois ClassicalStudies 116 (1991) 161-72
arguesthatIphigenia'sfree will is the distinguishingmarkof herheroism,emphasizingespecial-
ly herpity for Achilles andhis plight(167).
21 The interpretationof Iphigenia'sself-sacrificeas deludedor foolish has been carefully
presentedby SIEGEL (above, n. 7). See especially 314 on the ironies of this young girl's
possession of any freedomsof action or choice. >Self-delusion<< is an essential term for my
analysis.By concentratingon the processof belief formationI hope to avoidsome of the logical
problemsentailedby the identityof subjectandobjectin theterm>>self-delusion.<< As thedeluder
succeedsin the processof delusionshe becomesthe deluded,andcannotthereforeperceivethe
delusionas delusional.Forthis reasonI havepreferredto discussthe processas belief formation,
thoughI am in greatsympathywith earlierarguments,such as SIEGEL'S, that Iphigeniais in a
processof self-delusion.The term>>self-delusion< invitesourscornfor theself-deluder,thoughI
suggestthatwe maywell feel pity instead.Scornfor Iphigenia'sdecisionis eloquentlyexpressed
by DIMOCKin his introductionto a translationof the play,W. S. MERWINandG. E. DIMOCK,JR.,
trans.Euripides'Iphigenia at Aulis (New YorkandOxford1978)8. Someimportantworkon this
play has emphasizedIphigenia'sadoptionof the very patriarchal valueswhichdestroyher.This
maybe a self-delusionor it maybe a delusionprovokedby reigningculturalparadigms.So H. P.
FOLEY, RitualIrony;PoetryandSacrificein Euripides,(Ithaca1985) 102,andN. S. RABINOWITZ,
AnxietyVeiled;Euripidesandthe Trafficin Women(Ithaca1993)39

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Lies and Convictions at Aulis 55

performs a similar action she does so with a vigor not found in her masculine
counterparts.Her claims about the absolute value of Greece and its freedom,
arising from Agamemnon's similar but more tentative claims, show that she has
moved the process of the formationof a conviction towards its fullest realization.
When Clytemnestraexpresses her final doubts about the veracity of the tale of
Iphigenia's death (1615-18) we see a counter-exampleto Iphigenia. For the first
time in the play we see a characterwho fully resists the impulse to refuse to see
what she sees. Clytemnestra's doubts receive a final validation in the ironic and
naive enthusiasm of Agamemnon's fleeting final appearanceon stage (1621-26).
The audience views this Agamemnon in full knowledge that he must die at the
hands of Clytemnestra for the events which have transpiredduring this drama.
The play's concentrationupon the formationof convictions from lies suggests that
Agamemnon will die, in part,for precisely that failure. He has resisted seeing the
deathof Iphigeniaas it is, thoughhe has shown thathe fully understandswhat it is.
Clytemnestra's coming punishment of her husband will serve to remind him of
what he earlier seemed to understand. It may remove him from the tawdry
conviction which we see in these final lines and place him again in the condition of
agonized understandingwith which he began this play.
We may scom or pity an Iphigenia who has so adopted her father's lie as to
make it her own conviction. The appearanceof the process of the formation of
beliefs and convictions in the charactersof Agamemnon and Achilles, its conspi-
cuous absence in the case of Clytemnestra,and the synergy of Iphigenia's change
of understandingand intention suggest that we are invited to observe the process
itself and to consider its dangers, whatever we may think of the characters in
whom that process occurs.

Walla Walla, Wash. DANA L. BURGESS

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