Nowhere in the Euripidean corpus is the problem of “authenticity” so thorny as it is in the case of Iphigenia in Aulis, which was produced a year after the tragedian’s death. Sometimes, however, the textual debate over apparently spurious lines can neglect certain thematic and musical motifs within them that may indicate, if not Euripides’ own authorship, then at least his intention as envisaged by an attentive, early reader. In this paper I argue that the remarkable exchange between Iphigenia and the chorus in lines 1475-1532 should be read in this light, not in terms of which section is or is not Euripidean: only then can we appreciate the ways in which the songs here fit within a larger pattern of mousikÄ“ throughout the play.
If, as seems likely, the last 100 lines of Iphigenia in Aulis are interpolated, then we seem to be left with an unusual ending to this play: first Iphigenia’s song at 1475-1499; then a brief, iambic exchange between her and the chorus at 1500-1509; and finally a short, astrophic choral song at 1510-1532. This last song has traditionally been regarded as inauthentic, largely due to the striking degree of repetition between it and Iphigenia’s monody. Recently David Kovacs has countered this view by arguing for the authenticity of the ode and suggesting instead that Iphigenia’s monody is spurious, in which case she was originally meant to depart to her sacrifice after giving her instructions to the chorus to sing to Artemis at 1466-1474.
I argue instead that the monody and choral song need not be mutually exclusive: the repetitions between them do not demonstrate the sloppy language of interpolators but rather are deliberate within an antiphonal exchange typical of a military paean. The paean that Iphigenia bids the chorus to sing to Artemis at 1466-1474 is therefore not just a sacrificial song, but also one to rouse the Greeks to battle now that, through her death, they can advance to Troy (hence her title of á¼‘λÎπτολις, 1475, 1511). She begins this paean as a chorus leader, directing the chorus’ dance movements (á¼‘λÎ¯σσετ’, 1480) and instructing them to sing with her (συνεπαεÎ¯δετ’, 1492). Not only do the similarities between the songs of Iphigenia and the chorus suggest an antiphonal paean, but so do their militaristic tone and the repeated refrain of á¼°á½¼ á¼°ÏŽ. However, unlike the almost exclusively male performance of paeans outside tragedy, here, in a gender inversion typical of Euripides, both the chorus and leader are female. This type of song marks a significant transition at the end of the play from the music of female lament (which Iphigenia has previously performed at 1279-1335) to that of the paean, paralleling Iphigenia’s own changed resolve to submit to sacrifice for the sake of the army. It also exemplifies just the sort of mixing of genre and gender that is so criticized by Plato in his Laws as the practice of recent musicians (700d, 669c).
Finally, the return of the chorus here is significant in a play in which they sing over a quarter of all lines in the first two thirds but are largely silent in the last 500 lines, when the musical focus of the drama is directed at Iphigenia instead, who herself utters very little until this point but thereafter becomes the dominant voice of the tragedy. I suggest that the chorus’ response to her song in the closing scene of the play also replaces it, marking the end of both her singing and her presence in the drama as a whole: choreia returns with Iphigenia’s departure and death. Such “aberrant” chorality may be compared with that in other late plays of Euripides, particularly Helen and Heracles.