47 pages 1 hour read



Fiction | Play | Adult | BCE

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Lines 606-1005

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Lines 606-746 Summary

Admetus enters from the house, leading Alcestis’s funeral procession. As Admetus invites the Chorus to say their final farewell to Alcestis, his father, Pheres, arrives with funerary gifts. Pheres expresses his condolences for Admetus’s loss and praises Alcestis’s virtuous example as he presents the funerary gifts. Admetus, however, rejects his father’s gestures, saying that he holds him responsible for Alcestis’s death:

Your time
To share my sorrow was when I was about to die.
But you stood out of the way and let youth take my place
In death, though you were old. Will you cry for her now? (632-35).

In an acrimonious debate scene, Admetus accuses his father of being a coward for clinging to his life too long and for refusing to die for his own son even though he is already an old man. Pheres, Admetus argues, has already experienced everything he needed to be happy, reigning as a king and passing on his throne to his son. Since only Alcestis was willing to give her life for his, Admetus regards her as his only family.

Pheres responds to his son’s words with equal bitterness, chiding him for going too far in his accusations.