Herakles Role in the Alcestis

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The Ancient Greeks not only used mythology to build the foundations that illustrated their concept of life, but for entertainment as well. The legendary concept of the hero was a popular element in Greek plays, and no such hero was more renowned or famous than the mighty Herakles. Comparable to no one, Herakles' vast popularity in ancient Greece was captured by the literature created surrounding his legend. A role model, admired for making the world a safer place for people, Herakles' deeds demonstrate his courage, strength, and ambition.

Unlike most mythological heroes of Greece, Herakles was never associated with one particular area. The many adventures of Herakles, including his twelve labors, allowed for him to travel abroad, meeting various peoples, performing many deeds, and, resultantly, increase his popularity. Herakles, however, had tendencies of bad behavior, and was sometimes remembered as being dull-witted, or ill-tempered. In plays such as Euripides, Alcestis, Euripides demonstrates how the Greeks found other ways in which to elevate the hero status of intellect and diplomacy to overcome opposition, without relying solely on brute strength. The role of Herakles in the Alcestis concentrates on his positive heroic qualities, and allow for his presence to influence the play in more ways than one.

In Greek culture, hospitality was considered a great virtue. The theme of hospitality is present throughout the whole play, starting with Admetus being hospitable to Apollo while in exile. To return hospitality, Apollo allows for Admetus to outlive his predetermined life. According to the conditions of Apollo's hospitality, it is Admetus' wife Alcestis who displays hospitality to take her husband's thrown, and as fate would have it, die. When Herakles arrives at Admetus' home, on the guise of hospitality, Admetus doesn't reveal his wife's death. Herakles, not knowing the condition of Admetus' home, acts indulgently, and "…drank the...
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