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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds Now here cometh Agamemnon. Show me, I pray you, an answer I shall make unto him if he ask for my daughter, seeing that she maketh such moan. I am glad that I’ve met with you, oh, Clytemnestra, for I have diverse things to talk with you of. If you have anything to say to me, tell it now, for I’m ready to hear. First call at my daughter that she might go with me to the temple of the goddess Diana. For I have prepared all things ready for the sacrifice. You have spoken very well. Though, indeed, your doings do not agree with your words. Go your ways, daughter, with your father, and take with you your brother Orestes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds Why do you weep and lament so, daughter? Alas, how shall I bear this misery, seeing that all mortal men are vexed both from the beginning, the midst, and the end to your first suffering. What is the cause [INAUDIBLE]? I will show you.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds If you will first promise me to answer one thing that I will require of you. Yes, truly. I will grant you your request for I did think to have asked this of you.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds I hear say that you go about to slay your own child. What?

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds You have spoken those things which you ought neither to say nor yet to think. Answer me, I pray you, the question as you promised. It is not lawful for me to answer you to those things which you ought not to know. I have not inquired of anything which doth not become me, but take you heed, rather lest you make such answers you ought not. Who hath done you any injury? Or who hath given you any cause to say so? Asking this question of me so your craft could not be perceived. Alas, I am troubled more and more. For now, all my secret counsel is openly declared. Indeed, I have heard of all that you have prepared for your daughter.

Skip to 2 minutes and 28 seconds Yea, you yourself have partly confessed it in holding your peace. I am constrained to hold my peace, because I have told you so manifest a lie that I cannot deny it. Hearken, therefore, I pray you. For I must need to tell you of your fault. Do you not remember that you married me without the goodwill of my friends, taking me away with strong hand after that you had slain my other husband, Tantalus, which cruel deeds my brothers Castor and Pollux would have revenged, save the tenderness my father delivered you out of that peril, so that by his means you did obtain me to be your wife? Or after I was married, never showed myself disobedient unto you in anything.

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 seconds And then I happened to have three sons at one birth, and afterwards one daughter. And will you now slay her, now I know just cause why? For if any man were to ask of you the cause of your daughter’s death, you would answer, for Helen’s sake, which can be no lawful cause. For it is not meat that we should slay our own child for a naughty woman’s sake, neither destroy those who meet nature we ought to love for her cause only, which is hated of all men.

Skip to 3 minutes and 50 seconds Besides this, if you kill my daughter what lamentation must I need make when I shall go home and want the company of her, seeing that she was slain by the hand of her own father? Therefore, if you will not be moved by pity, take heed, lest you compel me to speak those things that do not become a good wife. Yea, and you yourself do those things that a good man ought not to do. Tell me now, I pray you, what good do you obtain from your daughter’s death? Do you look for a fortunate return? Truly you cannot, by this means, get that. For that journey cannot end happily which has begun with mischief.

Skip to 4 minutes and 35 seconds Besides this, surely you shall stir up the gods to anger against you, for they do even hate those that are man killers. And again, how can you enjoy the company of your other children when you come home? They will even fear and abhor you, seeing that willingly you do destroy your own daughter. And you shall not only fall into this mischief, but you shall purchase yourself the name of a cruel tyrant. You are made captain over the Grecians to deal justice to all men, and not to do both me and also your children such an injury.

Skip to 5 minutes and 10 seconds It is not meet that your children should be punished for that which pertaineth not to you, neither would I to lose my daughter for Helen as cause whoeth never showed herself faithful to her husband. It is meet, oh, Agamemnon, that you should follow your wife’s counsel. For it is not lawful that a father should destroy his child.

Outspoken Women: an extract from Lumley's "Iphigenia"

In this step you will watch an extract from Lady Jane Lumley’s play performed by Rose Company Theatre, directed by Emma Rucastle. Details of the performers are in the downloadable file.

The play is set at the beginning of the Trojan war where the Greek army is gathered to recover Helen, the wife of Agamemnon’s brother Menelaus who has been abducted by the Trojan prince, Paris.

The Greek ships are becalmed at Aulis so Agamemnon determines to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to the goddess Diana so that she will send them wind to send them to Troy. He lures Iphigenia and her mother Clytemnestra to Aulis by pretending that he has arranged a marriage between Iphigenia and the heroic soldier Achilles.

In this extract, Clytemnestra has learned from Achilles that her husband, Agamemnon, has determined to sacrifice their daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Diana and confronts him.

As you are watching, make a note of anything that sounds unconventional for a female character.

Then post a comment about your impressions.

Transcript of the extract performed is below. It is taken from British Library Manuscript MS Royal A ix ‘The Tragedy of Euripides called Iphigenia translated out of Greek into English by Lady Jane Lumley’ (c.1557)

The spelling has been modernised but the modern ideas and tone are Lumley’s.

Clytemnestra:

But now here cometh Agamemnon. Show me, I pray you, therefore what I should answer him if he ask for my daughter, seeing that she maketh such moan.

[Enter Agamemnon]

Agamemnon:

I am glad that I have met with you, O Clytemnestra, for I have diverse things to talk with you of.

Clytemnestra:

If you have anything to say to me, tell me, I pray you, for I am ready to hear.

Agamemnon:

First call out my daughter that she may go with me to the temple of the goddess Diana, for I have prepared all things ready for the sacrifice.

[Exit member of Chorus]

Clytemnestra:

You have spoken well, though indeed your doings do not agree with your words.

[Re-enter Iphigenia (& Orestes)]

But go your ways, daughter, with your father, and take with you your brother Orestes.

Agamemnon:

Why do you weep and lament so daughter?

lphigenia:

Alas! How should I suffer this trouble, seeing that all mortal men are vexed both in the beginning, the middest, and the ending of their misery?

Agamemnon:

What is the cause, that all you are so sorrowful?

Clytemnestra:

I will show you, if you will promise me to tell me one thing, which I will require.

Agamemnon:

Yes, truly, I will grant you your request, for I did think to have asked it of you.

Clytemnestra:

I hear say that you go about to slay your own child.

Agamemnon:

What? You have spoken those things which you ought neither to say, nor yet to think!

Clytemnestra:

Answer me, I pray you, to this question, as you promised.

Agamemnon:

It is not lawful for me to answer you to those things which you ought not to know.

Clytemnestra:

I have not enquired of anything that doth not become me. But take you heed rather, lest you make such an answer as you ought not.

Agamemnon:

Who hath done you any injury, or who hath given you cause to say so?

Clytemnestra:

Ask you this question of me? As though your craft could not be perceived!

Agamemnon:

Alas, I am troubled more and more, for all my secret counsel is now openly declared.

Clytemnestra:

Indeed, I have heard of all that which you have prepared for your daughter. Yea, and you yourself have partly confessed it in holding your peace.

Agamemnon:

I am constrained to hold my peace, because I have told you so manifest a lie that I can not deny it.

Clytemnestra:

Hearken now I pray you therefore, for I must needs tell you of your fault. Do you not remember that you married me without the good will of my friends, taking me away with strong hand after that you had slain my other husband, Tantalus, which cruel deeds my brother Castor and Pollux would have revenged, except Tyndarus, my father, delivered you out of that peril? So that, by his means, you did obtain me to be your wife, who after I was married never showed my self disobedient unto you in any thing. And then I happened to have three sons at one birth, and afterward one daughter, and will you now slay her, knowing no just cause why? For if any man should ask of you the cause of the death of your daughter, you would answer “for Helen’s sake”, which can be no lawful cause. For it is not meet that we should slay our own child for a naughty woman’s sake, neither destroy those that by nature we ought to love, for their cause only which are hated of all men. Besides this, if you kill my daughter, what lamentation must I needs make when I shall go home and want the company of her? - considering that she was slain by the hands of her own father. Wherefore if you will not be moved with pity, take heed lest you compel me to speak those things that do not become a good wife, yea, and you yourself do those things that a good man ought not.

But tell me now, I pray you, what good do you obtain by the death of your daughter? Do you look for a fortunate return? Truly you can not by this means get that, for that journey can not end happily which is begun with mischief. Besides this, surely you shall stir up the gods to anger against you, for they do even hate them that are manquellers [i.e. mankillers, murderers]. Again, you can not enjoy the company of your other children when you come home, for they will even fear and abhor you, seeing that willingly you do destroy your daughter. And you shall not only fall into this mischief, but also you shall purchase yourself the name of a cruel tyrant. For you were chosen the captain over the Grecians to execute justice to all men, and not to do both me and also your children such an injury. For it is not meet that your children should be punished for that which pertaineth not to you, neither ought I to lose my daughter for Helena’s cause, who hath never showed herself faithful to her husband.

Chorus:

It is meet, O Agamemnon, that you should follow your wife’s counsel. For it is not lawful that a father should destroy his child.

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Penshurst Place and the Sidney Family of Writers

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