Alcestis (ălsĕsˈtĭs) [key], in Greek mythology, daughter of Pelias. She was won in marriage by Admetus, who fulfilled her father's condition that her suitor come for her in a chariot pulled by a wild boar and a lion. So great was her devotion that when Admetus was granted life by the gods if someone would die in his place, she willingly gave her life. In some myths Hercules rescued her from the dead; in others Persephone was so touched that she reunited husband and wife. The legend was dramatized by Euripides in his play Alcestis, which became the basis for operas by Gluck, Handel, and others, and by Thornton Wilder in his play A Life in the Sun.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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