What is the character of Admetus in Euripides' Alcestis?



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Alcestis is a particularly interesting play by Euripides in that it seems to foreshadow New Comedy more than resembling either a traditional tragedy or an old comedy. The essential plot, that Admetus is condemned to die unless he can find someone to die in his place, is a test of Admetus’ character and one that he fails rather badly. He tries to persuade his elderly parents to die for him, arguing that they only have a few years left anyway, and when that fails allows his wife to sacrifice herself. Although he claims to mourn her death, given that she died only because he was too cowardly to face his fate, I think we must regard him as a selfish hypocrite.


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