Alcestis Essay Research Paper Alcestis is a — страница 2

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can thus be held accountable for the sidetracking of the hero Heracles from his twelve tasks. This is Apollo?s intent, yet another aspect must be proven and that is whether or not Heracles has the disposition to, as D.L. Drew believes, cruelly present Admetus with the corpse of his wife. A look into Heracles?s past is an interesting way to do so. Heracles was driven by a fit of passion to kill his wife, Megara, and his children by her. After the flame of anger created by Hera (who was angered by Heracles?s existence as the son of Zeus and of a mortal woman) was extinguished, Heracles was mortified by his actions. He sought out the oracle at Delphi in order to discover what it was he must do in order to make up for his actions, and this is how Heracles was assigned to the twelve

tasks as commanded by his half-brother, Eurystheus2. In this way, one can see that Heracles is a character who feels responsible for his own mistakes and who tries to make up for them. One may be wondering what this character trait has to do with Heracles?s motivations and whether or not he would actually bring to Admetus the corpse of Alcestis. Admetus welcomes Heracles into the land of Thessalia and does not tell him of the death of Alcestis. Heracles is lead to believe, through the cryptic words of Admetus (”She is and is not- and for this I grieve” (Euripides 521).) that it is a stranger who has died. Heracles therefore disgraces himself by acting very indulgently. “He?drank the unmixed wine of the dark grape-mother, until he was encompassed and heated with the fame of

wine. He crowned his head with myrtle sprays, howling discordant songs. There was he caring nothing for Admetus?s misery?” (Euripides 755-760). Soon though, he is told the truth that Alcestis has died. It is in Heracles?s disposition, which is of a man who is somewhat slow to understand, who is animalistic in his passions, yet who is quick to take responsibility for his actions, that one can see he is not the type of man to seek revenge. Heracles did not bring Admetus the corpse of his wife; he instead brought the resurrected Alcestis in order to apologize for his rather inappropriate actions. “If I can leap upon him [Death] from an ambush, seize him, grasp him in my arms, no power in the world shall tear his bruised sides from me?” (Euripides 847-849). It is interesting to

note that Heracles actually wrestles with Death in order to free Alcestis. He fights for the queen?s life, as did Apollo in the opening of this drama. This can be seen as a connection to the opening scenes and as a reminder that Apollo?s original oracle has been fulfilled. The examination of Apollo and of Heracles thus far deals mostly with plot and with motivation. The structure of the drama and its status and a tragicomedy is also very important in the examination of Alcestis. There are obvious examples of tragedy in this drama, such as the downfall of Admetus as he mourns for Alcestis, yet comedy does seem to be sparse in the text at first glance. On a closer look, however, one can see many of the elements of comedy throughout. There is little to no phallic worship in this

drama, although one can make guesses as to how Heracles rejoices in his drunkenness. Heracles does play an important role in the creation of one comic element, however, and that is wild indecency. As mentioned above, Heracles saunters around drunk and rejoices as an entire kingdom mourns for their lost queen. “Hey, you!” Why so solemn and anxious??You greet him [Heracles] with a gloomy?face, because of your zeal about a strange woman?s death?” (Euripides 773-777). Heracles is drunk here and unknowingly mocks the mourning of the servant that he is talking to. This also serves as a type of selfish effrontery. Obviously, Heracles has offended the servants of the palace as he rejoices in a drunken stupor. Furthermore, Admetus acts selfishly as he lets his wife die in place of

him. He is offended when his elderly mother and father do not die for him. In his argument with his father Pheres, Admetus delivers much of the selfish effrontery in the drama. “You have proved what you are when it comes to the test, and therefore I am not your begotten son; or you surpass all men in cowardice, for, being at the very verge and end of life, you had neither courage nor will to die for your son” (Euripides 640-643). One might wonder why Admetus brashly offends his father as such, when he is guilty of the same crime; he had no right to take Alcestis?s offer to die. The third element of comedy in Alcestis is social satire. The concept of mourning is made into a hyperbole, for example. “Your image, carven by the skilled hands of artists, shall be laid in our