Iphigenia was the eldest daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, and Homer generally refers to her as Iphianassa. Her name indicates her royal parentage, meaning 'of mighty birth', from ipkios, 'strong', 'mighty' and geno, 'to bear'. Of course, the name could also indicate that she in turn would be the mother of mighty offspring, and in one story she is said to have married Achilles and borne him Pyrrhus.

She also has an association with Artemis, who in one account carried her off to be her priestess at a temple where human sacrifices were performed. This suggests that Iphigenia may herself have originated as a by-name of Artemis, since it is certainly a highly suitable name for a great goddess.