Euripides' Alcestis (438 BC) Is a very peculiar tragedy--if it is indeed a tragedy.

The setting is the rich aristocratic land of Thessaly (the town of Pherae) where good king Admetus has been given a strange boon from the god Apollo.

1) The god gives us background in the prologue: How did he come to give Admetus his strange gift of extended life?

2) Compare the role of gods in this story to the intervention of gods in other tragedies (esp. Hippolytus and Bacchae).

3) Analyze the character of Admetus from his own words and actions, and from the words of others:

What are his defining traits? Faults and redeeming features?

What does this character suggest about the gifts of gods to their favorites?


4) Try to construct the death of Alcestis on stage: how would this have been performed (staging, props?)?

Compare this strange event with the fates of women in other tragedies. (Io? Phaedra? Agave?)


4) How is Heracles, the greatest of Greek heroes, portrayed here on the Athenian stage?