47 pages 1 hour read



Fiction | Play | Adult | BCE

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Lines 238-605Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Lines 238-475 Summary

Second Episode and Second Stasimon

The Chorus cries out in grief when they see that Alcestis is dying and meditates on the pain of losing a beloved spouse. Alcestis sings a final greeting, first to the sun and the light and then to her land and her home. Admetus, standing beside Alcestis, begs her not to leave him and asks the gods to spare her. But Alcestis can already see the gods of the Underworld beckoning to her: Charon, the ferryman of the dead, is urging her on with a hand on his oar while Hades glares at her from the darkness of his Underworld realm. Alcestis realizes that she must die now, but Admetus begs her to resist, telling her that “There would be nothing left of me if you died” (278).

Alcestis, switching from sung to spoken lines, now addresses Admetus in a calm and deliberate speech. She tells him that she must die now, having chosen to die for him. She rebukes Admetus’s parents, who refused to die for their son even though they were already old. Now, as “recompense” (299) for her sacrifice, Alcestis asks Admetus to swear that he will never remarry and give their children a stepmother who would inevitably treat them unkindly.