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Iphigenia / Phaedra / Athaliah

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  270 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Strongly influenced by Classical drama, Jean Racine (1639-99) broke away from the grandiose theatricality of baroque drama to create works of intense psychological realism, with characters manipulated by cruel and vengeful gods. "Iphigenia" depicts a princess' absolute submission to her father's will, despite his determination to sacrifice her to gain divine favour before ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 320 pages
Published 2004 by Penguin (first published 1963)
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Jee Koh
May 10, 2009 Jee Koh rated it really liked it
For no reason given by the play, Venus tortures Phaedra, wife to Theseus King of Athens, with a passion for her stepson Hippolytus. She struggles valiantly against the passion, and only confesses her love to him when she received news of Theseus' death. She is rebuffed by the prince, and then learns that the king is not dead but is returning home. Wild with guilt and fear, she allows her nurse Oenone to lie to Theseus that Hippolytus hit on her, and inner torture becomes also external tragedy. ...more
Simon Mcleish
Apr 19, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in March and April 1999.


One of the best known stories in Greek mythology is that of Iphigenia. She was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra; when he was leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War. the fleet was stranded at Aulis by contrary winds, and an oracle told them that the wind would only change if Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter.

The story of Iphigenia has a distinguished history in drama. As well as inspiring Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis
Jenny Elizabeth
Jul 29, 2012 Jenny Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Racine has always been on my periphery as someone I should read but to be honest, I've not bothered till I wandered into an Oxfam bookstore and found this book with the play Athaliah in it.

Let me just say that as if the drama of the Greeks lacked in anything, when arranged, so to speak, by the courtly romance of the French Enlightenment court, you get one big sha-BAM of drama. Though it's clear through Racine's expositions and prefaces that he struggles with various aspects of religion and his
Jul 25, 2016 Zach rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, classics
Iphigenia: An amazing play with a terrible ending. Agamemnon, Achilles, and Ulysses are spectacularly realized here, and this play reminded me so very much of Euripides' Trojan Women, my favorite classical Greek drama. Agamemnon's weakness and conflict is highlighted spectacularly in his interactions with Ulysses, Achilles, Clytemnestra, and Iphigenia herself. Unfortunately, the deux ex machina ending is bad, if kind of inevitable because Achilles and Agamemnon can't actually be in a civil war b ...more
Jan 21, 2013 Ali rated it liked it
Shelves: tragedies
ایفی ژنی، یا "ایفی ژنیا"، یکی از دختران "آگاممنون"، پادشاه آتن است. اگرچه در اساطیر یونان چندان از او یاد نمی شود، اما اغلب تراژدی نویسان یک تراژدی به نام ایفی ژنی سروده اند. پیش از جنگ تروا، هنگامی که آگاممنون مورد قهر الهه "آرتمیس" قرار می گیرد، "کالخاس" پیش گو به او توصیه می کند برای فرونشاندن خشم الهه، دخترش ایفی ژنی را در معبد آرتمیس قربانی کند. آگاممنون ابتدا نمی پذیرد اما با فشار دیگران و از جمله برادرش "منلاس" که پادشاه اسپارت است ("هلن" همسر همین منلاس، بعدن توسط پاریس ربوده می شود و هم ...more
I read the 1970 edition, published by Penguin Books, which includes an introduction to each play by the translator (John Cairncross) and Racine's preface to each play, all of which are informative and helpful. Iphigenia and Phaedra are based on Euripides' plays Iphigenia at Aulis and Hippolytus. The third play, Athaliah, is based on the Old Testament story of Athaliah, queen of Judah and follower of the pagan god Baal, and Jehoiada, high priest of the temple of Jerusalem (the high priest of Jeho ...more
Jul 30, 2015 Ci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My interest in Racine is presently confined in his Greek tragedies hence I bypassed the third play Athaliah.

"Iphigenia" has contributed significantly to the understanding of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, with the former in glorious maternal courage and fury, the latter rather low in both paternal and kingly behaviors. Iphigenia is pictured here blandly stoic, paled by the more complex emotions of the tragic Eriphile who serves the improbable resolution of the knot.

"Phaedra" is a melodramatic pass
Rebekah Morgan
Feb 09, 2016 Rebekah Morgan rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
It's impossible to translate Racine well but Cairncross does a fine job, especially in comparison to other translators. Phaedra is beautiful but the other two plays here fall a little flat for me. Iphigenia combines two different versions of her story, creating a strange deus ex machina in the end. Athaliah was written after his conversion to Christianity which comes through stronger than the actual story.
Nov 18, 2016 Luke rated it really liked it
I only read Phaedra, but this is the version I read from. I picked this up as a way of understanding Proust better, who references this play several times throughout 'In Search of Lost Time.' Little Marcel even goes to see it on two(?) occasions. It was illuminating, and well worth the read. The complications of sin and pre-emptive guilt are moving, even if disturbing.
Nov 09, 2010 Neal rated it liked it
I have read "Phaedra" from this collection. In large part, it is a retelling of Euripides' play "Hippolytus" with French neoclassical strings attached.
Steve Gordon
Jun 19, 2015 Steve Gordon rated it it was amazing
My interest was primarily with Phaedra as it plays a role in Proust's In Search of Lost Time, but all three plays were excellent.
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Jean Baptiste Racine was a French dramatist, one of the "big three" of 17th century France (along with Molière and Corneille), and one of the most important literary figures in the Western tradition. Racine was primarily a tragedian, though he did write one comedy.
More about Jean Racine...

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