Tauris is located in modern Crimea. While the Greeks had a colony there, the native people of the peninsula were rumored to be brutal savages. We hear about them most in the play Iphigenia in Tauris.
During the play, Iphigenia, the daughter of a leader of the Trojan war named Agamemnon, was going to be ritually sacrificed by her father. This was being done because Agamemnon had angered the goddess Artemis by killing one of her sacred deer. Just before Iphigenia was killed, the goddess Artemis (the very goddess she was being sacrificed to) intervened, and secretly exchanged her with a deer at the last moment.
Iphigenia was whisked away to Tauris to become their high priestess. While she was there, Iphigenia had to obey the laws of the land. One of these laws was that, as the high priestess, she had to ritually sacrifice any foreigners – specifically, Greeks – that arrive on their shores.
Iphegenia hated the fact that she was a slave to the Taurians, just like her ladies in waiting, who were all captured Greek women. Normally, however, Iphigenia didn’t mind having to ritually sacrifice her fellow Greeks. She saw it as a chance to take revenge on the people who had nearly sacrificed her.
Her opinions change when her own brother, Orestes, who she sorely missed, arrives on Tauris’ shores. He had come on a quest from Artemis, to try and alleviate his guilt over killing his father. Orestes is brought to Iphigenia to be sacrificed. After confirming each others’ identities, however, they hatch a plan to escape – a plan that includes a lie to the King himself.
The plan was a good one, and they managed to take a ship out and away from the peninsula. Once it’s realized that they’ve successfully slipped away, it takes the intervention of another god, Athena, to keep the savage Taurians from chasing after Iphigenia’s ship.
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