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[27] So when Orestes was come with Pylades to the land of the Taurians, he was detected, caught, and carried in bonds before Thoas the king, who sent them both to the priestess. But being recognized by his sister, who acted as priestess among the Taurians, he fled with her, carrying off the wooden image.1 It was conveyed to Athens and is now called the image of Tauropolus.2 But some say that Orestes was driven in a storm to the island of Rhodes, ... and in accordance with an oracle the image was dedicated in a fortification wall.3

1 This account of the expedition of Orestes and Pylades to the land of the Taurians, and their escape with the image of Artemis, is the subject of Euripides's play Iphigenia in Tauris, which Apollodorus seems to have followed closely. The gist of the play is told in verse by Ovid, Ex Ponto iii.2.43-96 and in prose by Hyginus, Fab. 120. Compare Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 1374; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 7, 141ff. (First Vatican Mythographer 20; Second Vatican Mythographer 202).

2 In saying that the image of the Tauric Artemis was taken to Athens our author follows Euripides. See Eur. IT 89-91; Eur. IT 1212-1214. But according to Euripides the image was not to remain in Athens but to be carried to a sacred place in Attica called Halae, where it was to be set up in a temple specially built for it and to be called the image of Artemis Tauropolus or Brauronian Artemis (Eur. IT 1446-1467). An old wooden image of Artemis, which purported to be the one brought from the land of the Taurians, was shown at Brauron in Attica as late as the second century of our era; Iphigenia is said to have landed with the image at Brauron and left it there, while she herself went on by land to Athens and afterwards to Argos. See Paus. 1.23.7, Paus. 1.33.1. But according to some the original image was carried off by Xerxes to Susa, and was afterwards presented by Seleucus to Laodicea in Syria, where it was said to remain down to the time of Pausanias in the second century of our era (Paus. 3.16.8; Paus. 8.46.3). Euripides has recorded, in the form of prophecy, two interesting features in the ritual of Artemis at Halae or Brauron. In sacrificing to the goddess the priest drew blood with a sword from the throat of a man, and this was regarded as a substitute for the sacrifice of Orestes, of which the goddess had been defrauded by his escape. Such a custom is explained most naturally as a mitigation of an older practice of actually sacrificing human beings to the goddess; and the tradition of such sacrifices at Brauron would suffice to give rise to the story that the image of the cruel goddess had been brought from the land of ferocious barbarians on the Black Sea. For similar mitigations of an old custom of human sacrifice, see The Dying God, pp. 214ff. The other feature in the ritual at Brauron which Euripides notices was that the garments of women dying in child-bed used to be dedicated to Iphigenia, who was believed to be buried at Brauron. See Eur. IT 1458-1467. As to Brauron and Halae, see Paus. 1.33.1 with Frazer's note (vol. ii. pp. 445ff.). But other places besides Brauron claimed to possess the ancient idol of the Tauric Artemis. The wooden image of Artemis Orthia at Sparta, at whose altar the Spartan youths were scourged to the effusion of blood, was supposed by the Lacedaemonians to be the true original image brought by Iphigenia herself to Sparta; and their claim was preferred by Pausanias to that of the Athenians (Paus. 3.16.7-10). Others said that Orestes and Iphigenia carried the image, hidden in a bundle of faggots, to Aricia in Italy. See Servius on Virgil, ii.116, vi.136; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 7, 142 (First Vatican Mythographer 20; Second Vatican Mythographer 202); compare Strab. 5.3.12. Indeed, it was affirmed by some people that on his wanderings Orestes had deposited, not one, but many images of Artemis in many places (Aelius Lampridius, Heliogabalus 7). Such stories have clearly no historical value. In every case they were probably devised to explain or excuse a cruel and bloody ritual by deriving it from a barbarous country.

3 This drifting of Orestes to Rhodes seems to be mentioned by no other ancient writer. The verb (καθοσιωθῆναι, which I have taken to refer to the image and have translated by “dedicated,” may perhaps refer to Orestes; if so, it would mean “purified” from the guilt of matricide. According to Hyginus, Fab. 120, Orestes sailed with Iphigenia and Pylades to the island of Sminthe, which is otherwise unknown. Another place to which Orestes and Iphigenia were supposed to have come on their way from the Crimea was Comana in Cappadocia; there he was said to have introduced the worship of Artemis Tauropolus and to have shorn his hair in token of mourning. Hence the city was said to derive its name (Κόμανα from κόμη). See Strab. 12.2.3. According to Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 1374, Orestes was driven by storms to that part of Syria where Seleucia and Antioch afterwards stood; and Mount Amanus, on the borders of Syria and Cilicia, was so named because there the matricide was relieved of his madness (Ἀμανός, from μανία“madness” and privative). Such is a sample of Byzantine etymology.

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