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Tragèdies. Vol. 1, Alcestis

de Euripides

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Alcestis is one of Euripides' richest and most brilliant - as well as most controversial - plays. But, apart from D. J. Conacher's student text, no annotated edition in English has appeared for more than fifty years. The present work is designed to aid close reading and to serve as anintroduction to the serious study of the play in its various aspects. The introduction covers the background to the story in myth and folktale, its treatment by other writers from antiquity to the present, the critical reception of Euripides' play, and its textual transmission and metres. The notesare designed in particular to help readers who have been learning Greek for a relatively short time. More advanced matter, such as discussion of textual problems, is placed in square brackets at the end of the note.… (més)
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  Achromatic | Feb 16, 2014 |
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 playwrights, he have a whole volume of Euripidean plays that came down to us along with the seven masterpieces).
However it is the myth sitting behind this play that we need to consider, and it seems that Euripides actually added nothing to the myth, and the resurrection of Alcestis at the conclusion of the play is something that existed in the original myth. The story was that Alcestis was an incredibly beautiful woman (surprise, surprise) and her father held a contest to see who would be the most worthy suitor - Admentus won the contest. With regards to Admentus, he had helped Apollo by taking care of the god after he had been kicked out of Olympus, and Apollo rewarded Admentus by helping him complete the task to win over Alcestis' father.
However, after the marriage, Admentus did not make the required sacrifice and was to die, but once again Apollo intervened and saved his life by making the furies drunk. The catch was that somebody had to die in Admentus' place. This is a little different than what I gathered from the play, and that was that for helping Apollo, Admentus was given the gift of a longer life, but there was a sting in the tail, and that was that somebody else had to willing give up their life. Admentus' parents basically told him to bugger off, but Alcestis, his wife, stepped in as the sacrifice, much to Ademntus' horror.
The play begins with Alcestis dying, and this happens pretty quickly. However, while Admentus and his household is in mourning, Heracles rocks up on his way to Thrace to complete one of his tasks. Now, hospitality is very, very important to the Greeks, and despite his mourning, Heracles is welcomed into the house and given guest quarters, however he is not told what is happening. Heracles finds out after speaking to a servant, and in appreciation for Admentus opening up his house, he goes and defeats death and brings Alcestis back to life.
Now, here is another instance of resurrection in Greek mythology. Here we have Heracles defeating death to bring someone back to life, however this differs from Christian mythology in that a second person steps in to overturn death, even though he is the son of Zeus. This is more like Jesus bringing Lazerus back to life as opposed to Christ returning from the dead. However we do see glimpses here of the concept of the son of God defeating death.
Admentus is truly a tragic character, probably one of the most tragic of the Greek heroes that I have read, though I note that it is Euripides that seems to use this the best. However, it does not end badly for Admentus, and his tragic flaw: his desire for a long life; does not truly bite him. In a way it causes division within his family, such as with the death of Alcestis and the fact that he drives away his father. Admentus is a truly selfish individual - what right does he have demanding the life of his father-in-law so that he might live longer. It does not work like that, and it seems that Euripides is in agreement.
This play is about death, pure and simple, and how death destroys relationships. We also get a glimpse into the mind of Admentus, as he mourns over the death of his wife. We see that despite his longer life it is no longer a life worth living and in fact he no longer wants to spend any time where he will be reminded of Alcestis' sacrifice. I guess the main reason he mourns so hard is not the futility and meaninglessness of death (as some Christians might suggest) but rather because the death came about through his own selfish desire to live longer.
Yet he does not learn from this, and in fact he is rewarded for his selfishness. Okay, it is clear that the reward comes not from his own failings as a human being, but rather because despite his grief and mourning (though I doubt a psychologist would suggest that this is the natural grief process) he still fulfilled his duty towards his guest. Also, despite his lying to Heracles, Heracles still saw fit to reward him for his hospitality. Still, those last five pages where Alcestis returns from the dead, despite her no longer having a voice in the play, just does not seem to sit right. ( )
  David.Alfred.Sarkies | Jan 24, 2014 |
Uma das mais belas tragédias da mitologia grega, escrita belamente por Eurípides. Confirmou seu título, aliás, de o mais trágico dos poetas. ( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Rated: B
The New Lifetime Reading Plan: Number 7a ( )
  jmcdbooks | Jan 28, 2013 |
Edition: // Descr: xl, 130 p. 19 cm. // Series: Call No. { 882 E7 4 c. #2. } Edited with Introduction and Commentary by A.M. Dale. // //
  ColgateClassics | Oct 26, 2012 |
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» Afegeix-hi altres autors (23 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Euripidesautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Aldington, RichardTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Arrowsmith, WilliamTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Arrowsmith, WilliamTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Beye, Charles RowanTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Conacher, D. J.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dale, A. M.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Fitts, DudleyTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Fitzgerald, RobertTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hadley, William SheldonEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Halleran, MichaelTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hughes, TedTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Italie, G.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Jerram, C. S.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lattimore, RichmondTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Luschnig, C. A. E.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Murray, GilbertTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Roisman, Hanna M.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Vellacott, PhilipTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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Alcestis is one of Euripides' richest and most brilliant - as well as most controversial - plays. But, apart from D. J. Conacher's student text, no annotated edition in English has appeared for more than fifty years. The present work is designed to aid close reading and to serve as anintroduction to the serious study of the play in its various aspects. The introduction covers the background to the story in myth and folktale, its treatment by other writers from antiquity to the present, the critical reception of Euripides' play, and its textual transmission and metres. The notesare designed in particular to help readers who have been learning Greek for a relatively short time. More advanced matter, such as discussion of textual problems, is placed in square brackets at the end of the note.

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