Alcestis (Ἄλκηστις) is a princess in Greek mythology, known for her love of her husband. Her story was popularised in Euripides's tragedy Alcestis. She was the daughter of Pelias, king of Iolcus, and either Anaxibia or Phylomache.
In the story, many suitors appeared before King Pelias, her father, when she became of age to marry. It was declared she would marry the first man to yoke a lion and a boar (or a bear in some cases) to a chariot. The man who would do this, King Admetus, was helped by Apollo, who had been banished from Olympus for 9 years to serve as a shepherd to Admetus. With Apollo's help, Admetus completed the king's task, and was allowed to marry Alcestis. After the wedding, Admetus forgot to make the required sacrifice to Artemis, and found his bed full of snakes. Apollo again helped the newly wed king, this time by making the Fates drunk, extracting from them a promise that if anyone would want to die instead of Admetus, they would allow it. Since no one volunteered, not even his elderly parents, Alcestis stepped forth. Shortly after, Heracles rescued Alcestis from Hades, as a token of appreciation for the hospitality of Admetus. Admetus and Alcestis had a son, Eumelus, a participant in the siege of Troy, and a daughter, Perimele.
Thornton Wilder wrote A Life in The Sun (1955) based on Euripides' play, later producing an operatic version called The Alecstiad (1962). The American choreographer Martha Graham created a ballet entitled Alcestis in 1960.
Books: Beasts and Monsters, Expertly Handled ; Alcestis / the Oresteia Versions by Ted Hughes Faber Pounds 7.99 / Pounds 12.99
Oct 31, 1999; Ted Hughes died a year ago, but his oeuvre has continued to grow. During the summer, Faber published his version of Aeschylus's...
THEATRE: Ted's Swan-Song Gets a Rough Ride ; Alcestis Viaduct, Halifax Julius Caesar Young Vic, London the Cherry Orchard RNT Cottesloe, London
Sep 24, 2000; Ted Hughes and Death were certainly no strangers. The poet's first wife, Sylvia Plath, gained near-legendary status by...