Alcestis - Oxford Classical Dictionary
Alcestis feels that she has fulfilled her duty in the marriage with Admetus by doing the following. (6) Her pietas is far-reaching: she has a piece of advice for her. called King Admetus and the young woman his wife Alcestis. marriage bed, concludes the description with these words: "Such are the .. on his advice. 1% Holder Response, Investec Relationship, Client Holdings, Analyst Office Holder Response, Analyst Holdings Response, Analyst trades within 30 days .. , AUAHZ5, Admedus Limited , AUTTC9, Traditional Therapy Clinics Limited , ES, Alcestis Investment SICAV S.A.
He then goes on to explain why Zeus reduced him to this state. The trouble began when Apollo's son Asclepius god of medicine was persuaded by the goddess Artemis to restore to life her favourite Hippolytus.
Furious at Asclepius' interference in the natural order of events, Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt. Apollo was grief-stricken at his son's death, and retaliated by slaughtering the Cyclopes who had forged the thunderbolt.
For this offence, Zeus ordered that Apollo was to become the slave of Admetus for one year. The slaughter of Asclepius "is to have a symbolical significance in the play, indicating the impossibility in the traditional world of tragic myth of resurrections from the dead. Zeus was responsible for this. For when he slew my son Asclepius by plunging a thunderbolt into his chest, I was angered at this and slew the Cyclopes Distinguish this form from the more usual aor.
Zeus compelled meas requital for this, to serve as hireling We might expect a preposition ej" after ejlqw;n. However, the simple accus. Conacher notes that this word is "not normally used of a god, since, when used personally, it usually describes a human attitude of respect often towards the gods or towards people or duties protected by them.
However, since Apollo wishes to indicate that he appreciates the proper, guest-revering treatment which he has received from his host, and wishes to show reciprocal honour to his host, it seems natural to use the same word of both the god and the man here involved. This line is sometimes bracketed, to suggest that it is not part of the original text - on the grounds that it does not go well with the preceding line, and that fivloi for ancient Greeks would normally include parents.
If it does not belong to the original, it may have been inserted by a later editor by way of explanation or amplification of line We might translate the line thus: On this day it is fated that she die and depart from life - what Conacher calls "an appropriately solemn and sonorous tautology". The reference is to the belief that the gods suffered pollution from being in the presence of death. We thus have here a convenient reason for Apollo's departure shortly after from the stage.
The arrival of Death. As we know from later references in the play, he wore a black robe linehad wings lineand was armed with a sword line Note the emphatic use, twice, of the pronoun suv. Death expresses outrage at Apollo's presence. Apollo had already trespassed on the preserves of the Underworld powers by doing a deal with the Fates and thus saving Admetus from death. Death now fears that Apollo will also cheat the Underworld of Alcestis' death. Note the construction, belonging essentially in a legal context, of ajdikevw followed by a partic.
We might translate lines thus: Was it not enough for you to prevent Admetus' death, tripping up the Fates with your crafty wiles? It is a typical feature of Greek drama, known as Stichomythia - dialogue in lines spoken, not sung or intoned alternating between two speakers who are often in dispute with each other.
There are a number of instances of this throughout the play.
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Apollo's weapons are justice and reasoned argument; so Death need not be afraid of any violence. Understand suvnhqe" with proswfelei'n: Yes and it's apparently your custom to help this family as well, outside the limits of justice. Death's own rejoinder continues the verbal jousting over the use of divkh. An alternative manuscript reading to ejkdivkw" "without justice" is ejndivkw", which would give precisely the opposite meaning. If it's the correct reading, then Death is obviously being sarcastic, since ejkdivkw" is what he really means.
It is possible that ejndivkw" is in fact the correct reading - on the grounds that it's the less obvious one, and therefore susceptible to change by a later editor. In such expressions, the gen. The preposition belongs with the verb and is normally attached to it as a prefix - meqhvkw "I have come searching for"followed by the accus. I doubt whether I could persuade you.
Persuade me to kill the one whom it's my duty to kill? Death deliberately misunderstands what Apollo has said in the previous line. Apollo sets him straight in the following line. The former makes much better sense in this particular context, and should be read in the text.
Ah, I see what you're saying. Literally, the line reads: So is there any way how Alcestis might reach old age? The "if" clause protasis is here suppressed.
You still wouldn't get more than one life if she were to die old or young. Apollo offers the prospect of a richer burial in later years as an enticement to Death not to claim Alcestis now, while she is still young. This form of the aor. The validity and origins of law were one of the areas frequently debated by them. Though the refence to them is anachronistic in the context of this play, it is highly topical for the period in which Euripides wrote, particularly since a number of such persons had fallen into disrepute in this period, because of their sceptical views of absolute truth and morality, and their increasing emphasis on forms of expression rather than substantive knowledge.
They taught their pupils how to argue persuasively, a skill which would enable them to be successful in public life. The unfavourable opinion held of them and their methods has given rise to the modern term sophistry, to indicate subtle but deceptive and false lines of reasoning. The reading of this line is in some dispute. Probably the most satisfactory version is: Those who have the wherewithal oi " pavvresti would purchase a death in old age.
Distinguish ou[koun not therefore from oujkou'n therefore. If this is the correct reading, Apollo would then be declaring that Death will yield to reasoned argument. However, line 69 clearly indicates that Alcestis will be taken from Death by force. But we should probably stick to the manuscript reading. In these lines Apollo prophesies the arrival of Heracles and his rescue of Alcestis.
Even though Heracles is not actually named, the reference to Eurystheus and the horses of Diomedes would leave the audience in no doubt as to his identity.
Dale comments that the anticipation of the plot in these lines has caused some offence, particularly because of the irrelevance of the details in You might consider whether this anticipation does indeed detract from the play's interest, or whether it has a specific function within the play. Why does Euripides anticipate the play's conclusion, and thus, apparently, rob it of much dramatic suspense?
Such a man will come to the house of Pheres when Eurystheus sends him to fetch the team of Thracian horses from their wintry regions. Here we might translate: The reference here is to Heracles' eighth labour, which obliged him to fetch the mares of Diomedes, king of Thrace, who were fed with human flesh.
Heracles succeeded in this labour by killing Diomedes and throwing his body to the horses; on eating his flesh they became tame. And there will be no gratitude for you from us. You will have earned no thanks from us. You will do this all the same i. Note the repetition of a[n with both partic. In the middle voice, the verb is often used in a religious context to mean "begin sacrificial ceremonies". Distinguish kratov", the gen of krav", a poetical word for "head", from kravto", which means "strength, power".
The Parodos, one of the standard features in the structure of a Greek play, is the song accompanying the entry of the Chorus along the parodoi, "side wings" leading into the Orchestra. In this case the Chorus is made up of the old men of Pherae. They are in fact divided into two semi-choruses, each chanting in turn, and engaging in dialogue with each other though it is not altogether clear how the lines should be divided between them.
This is the day appointed for Alcestis' death. The house of her husband Admetus is silent. Why is it silent? Does it mean that Alcestis is already dead? If she had in fact already died, one would expect sounds of lamentation and other signs of mourning. Does the silence mean that Alcestis still lives?
These are the questions on which the Chorus ponders as it makes its way into the Orchestra. In the first half of its song we are introduced to "that ambiguity between life and death which, in one form or another, is to hover over the whole play, including its finale. Translate here as "Moreover". There is some uncertainty in the textual tradition over the correct sequence of words in these lines, though the overall sense is quite clear.
Dale comments that "Alcestis' claim to ajristeiva among wives is at the centre of the story, and is emphasised repeatedly, by the Chorus, by Admetus, by the household, and to gain her end by Alcestis herself. These lines indicate some of the sights and sounds associated with mourning for the dead. A further sign of recent death was a servant standing by the gate of the house of mourning with a bowl of water.
This was used for sprinkling, and purifying from the pollution of death, those who were leaving the house after paying their respects to the dead. The precise meaning of the expression metakuvmio" alternative reading metakoivmio" a[ta" is uncertain. Various suggestions have been offered by ancient commentators; for example, it refers to the lull between two waves, or the calm after a storm.Euripides: Alcestis - Summary and Analysis
The general sense here seems to be that Apollo is invoked as the one who might bring relief for those grief-stricken by Alcestis' imminent death - presumably by an 11th-hour rescue from Death's clutches.
Paiavn is in Homer the physician of the gods. The term is subsequently used as an epithet of gods who grant recovery and deliverance, and is particularly associated with Apollo in his capacity as a god of healing. In such statements, the imperf. If she were dead, they the members of her household etc.
Metrical considerations make the precise reading of this line very uncertain. However, the general sense seems to be that the body has not yet been carried from the house - one of the reasons the Chorus hopes that Alcestis may still be alive. In this case, the protasis has to be understood: How would Admetus have left unattended the tomb of his dear wife if she were dead?
A reference again to the practice referred to in lines Again, the precise reading of these lines is in some dispute, though the overall sense is clear. If these words are to stand, pivtnei probably refers to the falling of the cut hair, but the sense is not entirely satisfactory.
The line literally translates: The good being destroyed tw'n ajgaqw'n diaknaiomevnwn, gen. The expression means " to where in the world? We might freely translate these words thus: There is nowhere in the world where an expedition might be sent, either to Lycia or to the dry wastes of Ammon, to save the life of this unfortunate woman.
These words make reference to two famous oracles, that of Apollo at Patara in Lycia in south-western Asia Minorand that of the god Zeus-Ammon at the oasis of Siwa in the Libyan desert. There were of course well-known oracles closer to hand, for example at Delphi. Presumably the more distant oracles would have been sought out only if the local ones had failed to give satisfactory advice.
But in this case, even the most far-flung oracles could be of no assistance to Alcestis. The verb is used here in an indirect question and has deliberative force - i. I don't know to what sacrificial altar of the gods I am to turn adopting the reading ejscavran. If the son of Phoebus were alive and could gaze with his eyes upon this light of day, The son of Phoebus Apollo is Asclepius, whose death at the hands of Zeus has been noted in lines We are now given the reason for his death.
For he used to raise up those having been killed. But now what hope of life am I to hold out to her can I possibly hold out to her? The authenticity of these lines has been questioned by a number of scholars, partly on the grounds of diction and metre. Comedy and satyr drama, in which his athletic physicality can be played for maximum effect, are where he seems most at home.
As a prosatyric play, Alcestis gets to dabble in both tragic and comic modes. Considered as a tragedy it is a troubling play full of unpleasant paradoxes. As a type of mythological burlesque, satyr drama makes it possible to imagine a world where cosmogonies and theomakhiai are just sports. It is not the case that death lacks seriousness, but in the grander scheme of things, death is just part of the game, and everyone must play by the rules. Nor is sport itself completely devoid of seriousness: Truly legendary athletes like Theagenes of Thasos or Euthymus of Locri won so many victories in life that they could not be completely conquered by death, and instead they were worshipped as heroes.
That a semi-mortal, semi-divine figure like Heracles could wrestle Death into submission suggests why he, and athletics in general, fits in so well in the tragi-comic setting of satyr drama. Etymological Dictionary of Greek. Brophy, Robert and Mary Brophy. Five Aspects of an Interpretation. Pindar and the Cult of Heroes. Detienne, Marcel, and Jean-Pierre Vernant. Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society.
The Funeral Games, Iliad Griechische Epigramme auf Sieger an gymnischen und hippischen Agonen. Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides. Telling Time in the Iliad. Sport and Society in Ancient Greece.
The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy. Athletics in Ancient Athens. Drama and Athletics in Ancient Greece. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. A Paradox in Dying. Oxford and New York: Studies in the Terminology of the Greek Combat Sports. Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture. Tragic and the Absurd. Tragedy at Play, ed. Eros and Greek Athletics. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Wortgebrauchs.
Alcestis and the Concept of Prosatyric Drama. The Greek Satyr Play. Echoes of Genre in Tragic Lyric. Footnotes [ back ] 1. Recent studies have detailed relationships between epinician poetry and tragedy: See Sutton and Pritchard Criticisms of athletes and their trade e. See the discussions of Kyle On Alcestis as a prosatyric play, see MarshallRoisman and Slater Based on the extensive use of these common satyr play motifs in Alcestis, Sutton recommends the play should be read as an experiment in genre which combines tragic, melodramatic and comic or satyric elements.
See, for example, Myres On this metaphorical usage, see also the discussion of Pi. As Philostratus the Elder explains: This is also the stance of Brophy and Brophy Bacchylides names him the first pankratiast