Alcmena (alk-MEE-nuh), the wife of Amphitryon, known for both her beauty and her fidelity. Although she is flattered by the fact that Jupiter wishes to mate with her, she is determined to remain faithful to her husband. She is not interested in adventure or passion, and she uses all of her wiles and wit to remain constant rather than to deceive her husband. When she begins to suspect that Jupiter already has come to her bed disguised as Amphitryon, she demands the truth but quickly accepts his false assurances rather than disrupt the peace of her life with her husband. In her verbal skirmishes with Jupiter, she is always victorious, refusing to allow him to reveal himself as a god who is only posing as her husband. Eventually, she forces him to choose her friendship rather than her love. She is adamant in her preference for the frailties of humanity over the powers and the abilities of the gods, refusing Jupiter’s offer of immortality or an opportunity to look into the future.
Jupiter, the supreme god in Roman mythology. His Greek counterpart is Zeus. He is lecherous, and when the mood seizes him, he seduces various mortal women who attract him. As chief god, he believes that this is his right. When he desires Alcmena, he uses his supreme power to create a war so that Amphitryon will be called away to battle. Jupiter then tricks Alcmena into taking him to her bed by disguising himself as her husband. Once in human form, he is amazed at how much more masterful he feels than when he was a god. Jupiter, hoping to return to Alcmena for a second night, has heavenly voices announce that he is going to become Alcmena’s lover in the night to come, but she eventually convinces him to...
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