Alcestis In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
Drama From Ancient Greece, Now Accessible! Alcestis - a masterpiece of ancient Greek theater. Its wit and depth are timeless, but let's be honest, deciphering ancient Greek isn't everyone's cup of tea. Enter BookCaps, your gateway to Euripides' genius in today's language! Lost in translation? Struggling with archaic expressions? BookCaps is here to assist. Experience the passion, the drama, and the brilliance of "Alcestis" without the linguistic barriers. For students burning the midnight oil, avid readers craving clarity, or anyone looking to dive into classics, BookCaps is your beacon. Join us as we bridge the past and present, making classics accessible and engaging. Stay tuned, as our exciting collection expands!


Buy Alcestis In Plain and Simple English Now!



Do you need to understand Alcestis and want something more interactive? Try our free app, SwipeSpeare!

Excerpt From Alcestis In Plain and Simple English




The scene represents the ancient Castle of ADMETUS near Pherae

in Thessaly. It is the dusk before dawn; APOLLO, radiant in the

darkness, looks at the Castle.




The house of Admetus! This is where I was subservient

In the past, and did not turn down the food of a servant,

Although I was born in heaven. Yes, Zeus had killed

My son, Asclepios, the Healer of the World,

Stabbing him with fire in his heart; in my anger

I killed his servants, the Cyclops, who made the fire.

Then Zeus threw me out of heaven to work

As a servant to a mortal man. I came to these people,

And watched over the flocks of a stranger for payment,

And I have watched over and helped this family since then.

The Lord I happened to come to was innocent

And had a heart as pure as my own, he was the son of King Pheres,

Admetus. I saved him from death,

Persuading the Grey Sisters until they swore

That Admetus could be spared,

If he would just pay the underworld the price

Of another living soul. For a long time he tried to find someone

Amongst all his family, and everyone who owed him love,

But he never found a soul who would give up his life

And leave this earth for him, apart from his wife:

Right now she is being carried through the funeral paths,

Stabbed by death; for this is the day

When she has to leave the light and die.

And, as the stain of death cannot come anywhere near

My brightness, I must leave this house which I love.

But look! There is the executioner of hell, here on earth,

Come to assault her! Yes, he has been watching patiently,

And now he comes when fate decrees.


Enter from the other side THANATOS; a crouching black-haired and

winged figure, carrying a drawn sword. He starts in revulsion on

seeing APOLLO.




Why are you here? What are you doing at the gate,

You being of light? Will you try to defeat

The judgement of heaven, and steal

Those things which rightly belong to the dead?

It seems it wasn't enough for you to have stopped

The death of Admetus in the past,

With your cunning magic wine, which

Deceived the three Grey Sisters of the grave;

But now I see you once again

Standing watch, threatening

With your arrows in your hands that you will take

This woman for yourself, who swore faithfully

That she would die at this time in place of her husband.



Do not worry.

I have come with fair speech and only want justice.


THANATOS (sneering)

And if your words don't work, you will use force?



I always carry this bow with me.



And you will help this family against the laws of justice? Yes, that's it.



I love this man, and I am sorry he is upset.



And now you want to steal my second victim from me!



I never robbed you, not then and not now.



In that case why is Admetus still on earth, not down below?



He gave his own wife as a hostage, for whom…


THANATOS (interrupting).

I am here; and I will take her straight to the grave.



Go on, take her. I can't change your heart.


THANATOS (mocking).

To stop me killing those who doomed? No; I will do my job.



No. To let people live long lives.


THANATOS (still mocking).

That would please you, would it? Of course I owe you great service.



Ah, so she could still… She can still grow old?


THANATOS (with a laugh).

No! I have my rights as well, and I insist on them.



For whatever happens you will only get one life.



It's a greater prize for me when they die young.



If she dies old, they will bury her with great treasure.



You can get lost! You're trying to look after the rich men!



What's that? Does death, who seems so blind, have wit?



Rich men would try to buy long life for themselves.



So you won't do me this favour? Is that it?



You know what I'm like, who I am: I'm telling you, no!



I know that you can make the gods ill and make men suffer.



Get lost! In your greed you have captured too many

Things which were not meant for you; but you won't have them all!



I swear, for all your bitter pride, a fall

Is coming your way. Even now a conqueror

Is coming to this house, sent by a southern King

To get him four wild horses, of the type

Which tear apart the bodies of men in Thrace.

This household will give him a warm welcome, and he

Will steal this woman back from you and your worms.

So you will give up everything to me, and all you will win

Is hatred, not the kindness you could have won.


[Exit APOLLO.]



Say what you like! Your threats won't get the woman

Back from me. Whatever happens, she

Will been lying in hell. Even as I speak

I am on my way to strike her with my sword.

Everyone whose head is visited by this grey sword

Must go to death and the Lords of hell.


[THANATOS goes into the house. Presently, as the day grows lighter,

the CHORUS enters: it consists of Citizens of Pherae, who speak






Quiet, quiet, above and below!



The household of Admetus is holding its breath.



And there is not a friend of the King nearby

To tell us whether we should be crying

For the daughter of Pelias, crowned and dead;

Or whether we should be happy, that she is still alive.

She is the bravest and most loyal wife

I have ever seen, or that the world will ever see.


DIVERS CITIZENS, conversing.

(The dash -- indicates a new speaker.)


Do you not hear any weeping, or the noise of hands

Beating their chests? No mourners crying

For someone they cannot save?


Nothing: and there is no maid servant

Standing there at the door. Help us, oh Paian,

Rise up, star beyond the seas!


Is she dead, and everything this quiet? No, this cannot be.

Dead, dead! Surely she hasn't been secretly buried?


What? I am still afraid: what makes you so certain?


Would Admetus send his dear wife to the grave

Alone, without witnesses?


I do not see a bowl of clear spring water.

That is always placed in front of

The door of a house where a dead man lies.


There is no lock of hair! Every woman's

Daughter cuts it off when their mother dies.

There is no sound of beaten chests!


But this is the day… Surely this is the day?


The day that the Queen should die and be buried.


This tears at my life, my heart! All honest men

Must grieve for the loss of such brightness,

A good life taken from us.



Wandering over thousands of miles,

Searching over the empty seas,

To where the Prophets of Lycia live,

Or where the three daughters of Ammon

Write their words in the sands of the desert,

To look for magic to make free–

It is all in vain! The end has come;

It comes suddenly and sharp.

What magic is there, what spell

Which could be made which could comfort me?



There is only one he could do that:

He was the son of Apollo,

He healed men, long ago.

If he was on earth to see this,

He would rise up from the darkness below

And those eternal gates.

He took men whom the gods had killed

And pitied them and brought them back to life;

Until Zeus killed him with fire,

And now, who can help us?



Everything that could be done has been done. Every promise

Has been kept; and every altar has been

Fully stocked with sacrifices.

There is no hope of a reprieve now.


Enter from the Castle a HANDMAID, almost in tears.



But look, a handmiad is coming, with the tears

Wet on her cheek! What news will we hear?

We understand your grief, daughter, if some bad thing

Has happened today. Tell us, is your mistress

Still alive, or dead? Tell us, if you can.



Alive. No, dead… Oh, take it which way you will.



No, daughter, can the same soul be living and dead?



Her life is over, you can see death in her eyes.



Poor  King, thinking of what she has been, and what you are!



He never knew what she was worth… He will realise it now.



I guess there is no hope of saving her now?



The hour of death has come, and no man can resist it.



She is being looked after as well as possible?



Certainly, and fine clothes are laid out ready for her burial.



By God, she dies with a great heart,

With far more honour than any other wife!



Far above any other! What others? What would

Someone who wanted to be better than this woman be like?

How could any wife show more devotion

To her Lord, than by dying for his sake?

But everyone in the city knows this. It is here,

In her own house, that you will hear a story

That is very strange. When she knew her time had come,

She got up and washed herself, her body white as foam,

With running water; then she opened her cedar closet,

And took out her funeral clothes

And rich accessories. So she stood dressed like that

In front of her own home fire, and prayed:

“Mother, since I must leave the daylight,

This is the last time I will kneel to you and pray;

Be a mother to my two children! Find a sweet

Wife for him, some kind Lord for her.

Do not let them, like I am, die before

Their natural time; let them live happily, in our

Ancient home, until they have lived a full life and reached a good age."

Then she went to every altar in the house

And placed on each one a garland

Made from the wild myrtle trees, and she was seen

Praying, with no sobbing, no tears.

She knew the terrible thing that was coming, but

Her face never changed colour: until suddenly she ran

Back to her own room and her bridal bed:

Then the tears came, and she said everything she was thinking.

“Oh bed, where my happy childhood innocence

Was taken by this man, for whom I am dying,

Farewell! It is you… I say without bitterness…

It is you who has killed me. I go alone,

To make sure I am not false him all to you. And perhaps

 Some other woman will lie here instead of me–

Maybe happier; she cannot be more faithful."

She kissed the pillow as she knelt there, and

Those fine blankets were soaked with her tears.

At last she had finished weeping; then

She tore herself away and got up again,

Walking with her eyes on the ground; but before

She left the room she turned, and knelt down

By the bed once again. Then her children came

To her side, and held onto her and cried,

And she hugged them, and she said a long goodbye

To each one, like someone who is going to death.

The whole household was then weeping, every slave

Was grieving for his mistress. And she held out

Her hands to all of them; there was not a single one so low

That she did not say kind words to him, and he responded.

So Admetus gets sorrow from

Both directions. It would have been a terrible grief to him

To have had to die; and having escaped death, what great sorrow

He has in its place–ah, someday he will understand!
Translation missing: