Alcestis Play by Euripides Summary

Alcestis Play by Euripides Summary


In the play Alcestis by Euripides, at first, the character Admetus seems disturbing.  Admetus was the husband of Alcestis and the king of Thessaly.  How is anyone supposed to take a man who first makes the rounds of his loved ones to as them each, in turn, to die in his places and accepts his wife’s death for his own and at the last minute asks her not to become angry with him seriously?  Why is Admetus rewarded by having his wife restored to him?  He seems guilty of cowardice in the face of death, betraying all his promises to his wife, and disowning his own parents and blaming them for the death of Alcestis.  But towards the end of the play, Admetus turns himself around when his wife is surprisingly restored to him.


In the play, Alcestis is presented as a young wife and mother who clearly valued her life, who found it rewarding, and who wanted to see her children grow up, marry and have children of their own.

After Alcestis’ death, Admetus’ personality and inner self is shown to the readers.  I saw him most clearly when he was denying everything that makes him himself.  He promised Alcestis that he would give up parties, music and whatever else he would normally do.  Admetus also ordered that there would be a living shrine to his wife such as a statue that would come alive in his dreams.

In the scene with Hercules, Admetus finally begins to play a central role in his life.  He breaks the first promise to Alcestis and invited Hercules to be his guest and almost forces him to stay in his house.  Admetus does not even acknowledge the death of his wife.  Even when Hercules asked what was wrong, Admetus lied and said that a stranger had passed away.  As I was reading this part of the play I became angry with Admetus.  How can someone disrespect their own wife’s death and to their own best friend?  He was keeping his wife alive in Hercules’ mind by not telling him.

Finally, when Hercules learns of Alcestis’ death he knows he has to save her, not only for Admetus’ sake but also for the true bravery that Alcestis showed.  Hercules was not all that angered with Admetus, but grateful for allowing him to still stay in this home during a time of such sorrow and grief.  Hercules saves Alcestis from Hades and enters Admetus’ home with a veiled woman looking, bride.  The strength of Hercules saved her from the monster of Death, but only Admetus can make her his wife again and truly bring her back to life.

Alcestis’ death had been her heroic fulfillment in life and has been an inspiration to all women.  Alcestis’ death made the life of Admetus unlivable, but her return made him a better man.


Alcestis, being given a second chance, can now continue her perfect existence.  She can enjoy the things that gave her pleasure, be present at her children’s marriages and once again be the best wife she can be.

Alcestis had made the choice of dying for her husband that made her a heroine.  She was also a role model who inspired others in the nature of her goodness.  But through Admetus’ love and faith, he brings her back to life in a way.  It is Admetus’ love that brings Alcestis back home to return to their normal lives.



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