Pieter Lastman has taken a scene from a story by the Greek dramatist Euripides. This is the story of Iphigenia and her brother Orestes. Iphigenia is standing on the right beside the altar. She is a priestess to the goddess Artemis. Two men are
standing on the left: Orestes and his friend Pylades. One of them must be sacrificed on the altar. They are arguing about which of them should sacrifice himself for the other. The executioner has his club ready and the fire is already burning furiously. Iphegenia has not yet realised that her brother is standing opposite her. In the end she recognises Orestes and escapes with him and Pylades.