The Architecture of Memory: The Case of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis


  • Maria Gerolemou University of Cyprus, Classics Departmentt
  • Magdalena Zira King's College London, Classics Department



This paper aims at analysing the function of memory in Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis from the perspective of its original conception and also with regard to a contemporary staging. The first part of the paper draws on memory in connection to the prehistory of the Trojan War. Retelling the sacrifice of Iphigenia, Euripides discusses memory as a non stable entity, which is formed by the specific social frameworks in which it operates. At the same time, the dynamics of memory are explored in the play through the examination of medial processes, as the written and oral word, through which memories come into the public arena, thus becoming collective ones. The aim of this first part, therefore, is to provide a bridge between the social dynamics of memory and the impact of medial technologies in shaping information about the past. Euripides’ dynamic understanding of memory, where individual and groups constantly reconfigure their relationship with their past, brings us to the second part of the paper. The story of the sacrifice of Iphigenia has a strong reception history, influenced by narratives of Christian martyrdom and contemporary nationalism. A new reading of the play for a contemporary revival will be discussed in order to reexamine this aspect of its reception, by foregrounding the themes of memory and historical amnesia.