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Alcestis

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,218 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
"The Alcestis would hardly confirm its author's right to be acclaimed 'the most tragic of the poets.' It is doubtful whether one can call it a tragedy at all. Yet it remains one of the most characteristic and delightful of Euripidean dramas, as well as, by modern standards, the most easily actable. And I notice that many judges who display nothing but a fierce satisfaction ...more
Paperback, 142 pages
Published February 1st 1990 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published -438)
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Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareWaiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Best Plays Ever
229th out of 656 books — 832 voters
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Euripides Plays
8th out of 19 books — 5 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,199)
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Erin
Apr 10, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
I'm pretty sure this was either a masterpiece or a train wreck. I'm leaning towards masterpiece. Admetus knows he will die soon, but Death offers him the chance to live if he can find someone to take his place. Admetus' wife, Alcestis, accepts. As Lattimore writes in the introduction, the tale isn't so much "How noble must a wife be to take her husband's place in death," as "How selfish and cowardly must a husband be to let his wife die for him." But Heracles rescues Alcestis and brings her back ...more
Bruce
Oct 23, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it
The translation read is that of Richmond Lattimore.

Alcestis has long been viewed as somewhat of a problem play. It was not produced as one of the traditional trilogy of tragic plays performed in Athens but rather was substituted for the satyr play that always followed them. Thus, it has long been disputed whether it is a comedy or a tragedy, and over the years it has been performed both ways. The story draws from Greek mythology. Admetus, king of Thessaly, had been told long ago that Death would
...more
Abailart
May 27, 2010 Abailart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Death:

I know.
I know what I'm up against.
You and your bright ideas, for one.
You will find the minds of human beings
With lunatic illusions,
A general anaesthesia,
A fuzzy euphoria,
A universal addiction
To the drug of their games,
Chasing a ball or power or money,
Or torturing each other,
Or cheating each other -
All that drama!
You know it.
But I cannot understand why you do it.
As far as I am concerned, their birth-cry
Is the first cry of the fatally injured.
The rest is you - and your morphine.
That is wht t
...more
Colin Lamont
Aug 07, 2013 Colin Lamont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Admetos, king of Thessaly, is cursed to die young. Being a good king, the call goes out for someone to take on his early death. After everyone declines, including his aging parents, his wife, Alcestis, chooses to die.

First and foremost, this play is a meditation on the horror of profound loss. In the stark wailing language of Greek plays, that emotion is distilled and magnified.


ADMETOS
"...a pain too huge to utter.
Pain, dark pain.
Instead of light-pain
No refuge anywhere in me
From this fire, this
...more
Caitlin
Apr 27, 2007 Caitlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Timeless play, awesome translation. My review from 2003 (which is apparently too long for this site (4000 character limit? Wha?)) [http://users.livejournal.com/_quodlib...]

Some favorite bits:

DEATH
Don't you know how paltry and precarious
Life is? I am not a god.
I am the magnet of the cosmos.
What you call death
Is simply my natural power,
The pull of my gravity. And life
Is a brief weightlessness-an aberration
From the status quo-which is me.
...
Their lives are the briefest concession,
My concession, a n
...more
Tony
Jan 23, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
ALCESTIS. (/). Euripides. ****.
This is an interesting play that deals with death and how people react to it. We learn that Admetis, the king of Pherae, has been marked by Death. He is offered the opportunity to avoid it if he can find a volunteer who is willing to die in his place. He canvasses his mother and father and various other nobles of the city. No one raises his hands. It is his young wife, Alcestis, who volunteers to take his place. We arrive after this has been decided, and Alcestis
...more
Alex
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it
This is a review of the play, not this translation. I read Paul Roche's translation, which (as usual) was clear but not smashingly elegant.

Bleak is the road...I am coming.

Alcestis, the earliest of his extant plays, shows Euripides doing what he does best: overturning the rocks of myth and poking at the worms underneath. The story: Admetus has been promised by his buddy Apollo that he can escape death if, when his time comes, he can convince someone else to die in his place. Sadly, no one wants t
...more
Bine
May 26, 2013 Bine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nette klassische Tragödie mit untypischem Happy End. Demonstriert die Kraft der Götter, und dass Gastfreundlichkeit sich auszahlt.
Man kann es leicht in 1 bis 2 Stunden durchlesen und hat trotzdem viel nachzudenken über den Tod und den Familienzusammenhalt und die Liebe. Man fragt sich unwillkürlich für wen man bereit wäre zu sterben. Zwischendurch war es mir manchmal etwas zu viel Gejammere und auch Admed ist mir nur so halbsympathisch, deswegen ein Abzug, wobei das Gejammere bei griechischen Tr
...more
Maria Gutu
Jan 24, 2016 Maria Gutu rated it it was amazing
O,ce fericiti sunt oameniii cei
lipsiti de nevasta si de copii!
Ei tin doar un suflet si sarcina lui
mai lesne e de-ndurat
In schimb ,ce priveliste crunta sa vezi
odrasle bolnave si paturi de nunta
zdrobite de moarte,cind ai putea sa stai
nensurat si fara copii.

Stephanie
Feb 19, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-college, plays
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
Oct 14, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
In Alcestis, Admetus is a king who is doomed to death by... well, Death himself, to put it simply; however, Death agrees to spare Admetus' early demise if someone else is to take his place. Alcestis, the king's wife, agrees to die in place of her husband, and so she dies, but not before she tells Admetus to never marry again. As a result, Admetus tells her that he will never marry again; in fact, he goes an extra step and agrees to never party again like he was used to doing.

Soon after, Heracl
...more
Marie
Jul 19, 2014 Marie rated it liked it
A matter of life and death, and the unavoidable character of the latter, with a strange morality.

When Admetus allows his wife to die instead of him, challenges the notion of dying in the precise moment that was meant to be. His own father highlights this fact as cowardice that deprives him of the moral authority to ask for a better behavior of his part.

The play takes a happy turn when the husband's friendship with Heracles grants the comeback of the deceased wife.

As other reviewers pointed out
...more
Christopher (Donut
I am reading Murray's book on Euripides, which is actually pretty good. His introduction here is fine; but his translations are as bad as T. S. Eliot said:

Professor Murray has simply interposed between Euripides and ourselves a barrier more impenetrable than the Greek language. We do not reproach him for preferring, apparently, Euripides to Ãeschylus. But if he does, he should at least appreciate Euripides. And it is inconceivable that anyone with a genuine feeling for the sound of Greek verse s
...more
Roberta
"Sono molte le sorti che il Destino ci prepara e spesso gli Dèi compiono eventi inattesi: ciò che si riteneva possibile non accade e ciò che nessuno s'aspetta il Dio lo dona."

Alcesti, moglie devota di Admeto, si sacrifica pur di non veder morire il marito.
Egli se la prende così con i genitori, che, ormai anziani, non hanno voluto morire per lui nonostante avessero già vissuto la loro vita.
L'arrivo di Ercole, però, risolverà la situazione e farà tornare felici tutti i personaggi.
Non ho gradito mo
...more
Eric Pabon
Dec 07, 2009 Eric Pabon rated it liked it
I would love to give this play the full five stars, but despite Euripides fame and talent, this play was filled with way too many lamentations by the main characters-except for Heracles, who was probably the best character.
I loved this story, from beginning to end.I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good tragedy.
Qi
Jul 10, 2015 Qi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-books
This is the last of Ted Hughes translated work before his death. Through his translation of Oresteia, I have to come to appreciate this great English poet’s extraordinary achievement in keeping the classical ethos fresh, powerful, relevant to our own time. Modern life has blurred much of the difference between grandeur and grandiosity, drama and spectacle, pathos and histrionics, especially suffering and hysteria. Only a consummate poet can hope to preserve and refresh other consummate poets of ...more
David Sarkies
Jan 24, 2014 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tragedy
Death and Resurrection in Ancient Greece
9 April 2012

I can now understand why they call this a problem play: for most of the play it is a tragedy but suddenly, at the end, everything turns out all right. One commentary I have read on this raises the question of whether it is a masterpiece or a train wreck. What we need to remember though is that this would have been one of the seven plays of Euripides that were selected to be preserved (and I say this because unlike the other two classic playwri
...more
max
Jul 21, 2011 max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greek, drama
See my review of Hughes' Tales from Ovid. Hughes does here what he does there. To call this a "translation" is a stretch. The cover says "translated and adapted," which is more accurate. "Adaptation," certainly, since Hughes goes so far as to make up new characters (Lichas, Iolaus, attendents of Hercules) who are not even in the original play.

In some ways it has nothing to do with Euripides, in other ways Hughes outdoes Euripides altogether. Just as with Tales From Ovid, this is a brilliant ref
...more
max
Apr 18, 2010 max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greek, drama
Alcestis is a weird play. No matter how you care to interpret it, the weirdness never goes away. Many who have encountered it have not figured out quite what to make of it: it clearly does not fit conveniently into any conventional critical box. It is the first play that we have in the Euripidean corpus, produced in 438 B.C.

This particular edition is excellent. It consists of an Introduction, Greek text, and Notes. It has a thorough introduction, including the following topics:

Alcestis in Myth
...more
Em
Feb 25, 2010 Em rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, 2010
This play tells the story of how King Admetus cheats death when his wife, Alcestis volunteers to die in his place. It is a translation and adaption of Alcestis by Euripides which I have never read so have no idea how faithful a re-telling this is.

What to say? I saw Euripides' Alcestis: A New Translation performed by Northern Broadsides in Yorkshire regional accents and it made an impression on me. I bought the book within a week but haven't read it in its entirity until now.

This writing is beau
...more
Juliane
A treasure of Ancient Greek. Alcestis was written in 438 B.C. and is probably the earliest of nineteen surviving plays of Euripides (he wrote about 90). Euripides was one of the great tragedians of classical Athens (beside Aeschylus and Sophocles).

Alcestis is telling us the story of the king Admetus. Through the trickery of his friend, the god Apollo, Admetus escapes Thanatos, Death. Apollo laments the situation he has gotten his friend into. He had persuaded Death to take a substitute for Adme
...more
Cristina - Athenae Noctua
l più antico dramma di Euripide fra quelli sopravvissuti descrive una storia che, sia per aspetti contenutistici che per scelte stilistiche, evade almeno in parte dalle caratteristiche della tragedia. Si tratta di un testo che alterna passi di forte commozione a momenti di gozzoviglia stridente.
La trama, in sé, è molto semplice: Alcesti, sposa di Admeto, al momento della morte di costui si offre per scendere negli Inferi al suo posto, ma viene infine riportata in vita dal prodigioso Eracle, amic
...more
علی
Apr 19, 2007 علی rated it it was ok
Shelves: tragedies
این تراژدی نیز به شکلی به داستان آگاممنون پادشاه آرگوس، همسرش کلی تمنسترا و دخترش ایفی ژنی مربوط است. آگاممنون می خواهد به شکلی از عهدی که در مورد قربانی کردن دخترش بسته، سرباز بزند. اما پیغامی که برای همسرش می فرستد، به دست او نمی رسد و آنها طبق اولین پیام آگاممنون، به تاوریس، و نه اولیس می رسند. ایفی ژنی و مادرش به زودی حقیقت را می فهمند و از این که بخشی از نقشه ی آگاممنون شده اند، خشمگین اند. اگرچه تلاش می کنند تا رای آگاممنون را بگردانند، اما او عهد کرده و چاره ای جز وفای بعهد ندارد. ایفی ژن ...more
John Wiswell
Jun 12, 2008 John Wiswell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Classics junkies
This review is in relation to the translation by William Arrowsmith.

In my recent spree of ancient plays I've found the ancients wrote very interesting characters with very poor execution of plots. Often the best plays had very little plot at all, or got the plot out of the way, in order to discuss or carry themes and let interesting (often mythical) characters thrive. Alcestis is an example of how plot structuring hurt the great Greek playwrights. The first act drags on every page with laments o
...more
Michael Arnold
Jan 27, 2016 Michael Arnold rated it liked it
Shelves: theatre-drama
Euripides seems to be very Marmite. You either love him or hate him. After reading this, I can't really say I see why. It has at its core a very interesting moral argument, but at the same time I do not know if it is just the influence of earlier people commenting on Euripides' quality but I'm not sure exactly what I think of the play itself. This is the first time I've read a Euripides play though, so I can't say I will have a very interesting opinion - nor can I really be expected to have one ...more
Christina-Rose
Aug 05, 2014 Christina-Rose rated it really liked it
Only Heracles would have the nerve to challenge death to a wrestling match.

I wasn't actually sure what I would find reading Euripides. I knew he was a famous play writer, but for some reason I was never quite clear on what he wrote, so it was definitely a fun surprise to find that this play was one of the stories from my childhood (even though I only realized it half way through). I certainly loved the play on its own, biases aside, but the nostalgia definitely made it much more fun to read.
Keely
Apr 09, 2015 Keely rated it liked it
Shelves: greek-plays
Alcestis, the oldest of Euripides plays that still survives in its entirety, is a great play and I enjoyed every page. I have now read five plays by Euripides and I still have no idea why he has a reputation as a misogynist. Alcestis was yet another Euripides play that showcased a strong and noble woman. It was even implied that Alcestis' husband was cowardly compared to her and didn't deserve her love. I can't wait to write my full review for this play, I adored it.
Timothy McNeil
Had I known that "translated and adapted" meant "treated with minimal respect to the original language and meaning" I likely would not have taken this book home from the library. Hughes writes this in a very unsatisfactory middle ground between the story and whatever modern sensibility he was trying to impart to it.
  LunaBel
Jan 13, 2015 LunaBel rated it really liked it
Shelves: s-b-play, myths
Alcestis: a unique play. It takes many twisted paths. The 'betrayal' of parents to their son. The indifference of Gods(Apollo), and the courage of half-mortals (Heracles), the faithfulness of wives (Alcestis) And the cowardice of kings (Admetus' refusal to die.)
Mitch Hadjula-Sicat
Why so selfish Admetus that you are willing to let your wife sacrifice herself for you? A lyrical play that makes one ponder about love, self-sacrifice and ambitions.
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(Greek: Ευριπίδης )
Euripides (Ancient Greek: Εὐριπίδης) (ca. 480 BC–406 BC) was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens (the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles). Ancient scholars thought that Euripides had written ninety-five plays, although four of those were probably written by Critias. Eighteen of Euripides' plays have survived complete. It is now widely believed that wh
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“There be many shapes of mystery; And many things God brings to be, Past hope or fear. And the end men looked for cometh not, And a path is there where no man thought. So hath it fallen here.” 0 likes
“Ahimè, sento parole dolorose, peggiori per me di ogni morte. Non essere così crudele da abbandonarmi, te ne prego, per gli dei, per questi figli che lascerai orfani. Non cedere, fatti coraggio! Se tu muori io non sono più niente: solo per te esisto e vivo.” 0 likes
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