Daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Her father having offended Artemis (Diana) by killing her favourite stag, vowed to sacrifice to the angry goddess the most beautiful thing that came into his possession in the next twelve months; this was an infant daughter. The father deferred the sacrifice till the fleet of the combined Greeks reached Aulis and Iphigenia had grown to womanhood. Then Calchas told him that the fleet would be wind-bound till he had fulfilled his vow; accordingly the king prepared to sacrifice his daughter, but Artemis at the last moment snatched her from the altar and carried her to heaven, substituting a hind in her place.
The similarity of this legend to the Scripture stories of Jephthah's vow, and Abraham's offering of his son Isaac, is noticeable. (See Idomeneus.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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