The theme of Euripides’ Alcestis blends the primitive folk-tale of the self-sacrificing bride, Alcestis, and of Heracles’ heroic struggles with the ogre Death, with a morality tale of “virtue rewarded”, in this case twice rewarded. The Alcestis is the only tragedy which we know to have been produced in the position usually allotted (at the Athenian tragic festivals) to the semi-comic “satyr-play”. Like a satyr-play, it has a happy ending but does the poet intend his audience to interpret the play in quite such simple terms? Opinions differ widely but the ironic, slightly mocking tone of the play suggests, at least to some critics, that more sombre meanings may lie beneath the surface of this beautifully constructed little masterpiece. Greek text with facing-page English translation, introduction and commentary. For this second edition, the General Bibliography has been updated, with major revision and expansion.
‘The introduction is informative, sensible and perceptive… commentary is up to date, learned, informative and often perceptive.’
†D. J. Conacher was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Classics at the University of Toronto, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and Honorary President of the Classical Association of Canada. His publications include Aeschylus: The Earlier Plays and Related Studies (University of Toronto Press, 1996), Aeschylus' Oresteia: a Literary Commentary (University of Toronto Press, 1989), Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound: a Literary Commentary (University of Toronto Press, 1981) and Euripidean Drama: Myth, Theme and Structure (University of Toronto Press, 1967).