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Alcestis, the woman of Sacrifice

Alcestis, the princess famous for her unconditional love and heroism

The Impossible Challenge

Alcestis was the fairest of the three daughters of Pelias, king of Thessaly.

When she was of an age to marry, several princes and kings appeared to propose to her, but Alcestis refused them all.

Pelias, knowing that his daughter's constant rejections to all the powerful suitors could threaten his position, set up a test to see who would be the most suitable husband:

Alcestis was to be the wife of the first man who would harness a lion and a boar to a chariot.

The Sacrifice of Alcestis

With the help of Apollo, a neighbouring king named Admetus succeeded in this seemingly impossible task.

But at the wedding Admetus forgot to make the necessary sacrifice to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and so found his wedding bed full of snakes, an indication that he was about to die.

Once again, Apollo came to the king's aid and persuaded the Fates to spare Admetus' life. The Fates agreed, but in return demanded the life of another person related to Admetus. Since no one, not even his parents, wanted to die for Admetus, Alcestis gave her life for him.

The Redemption of Alcestis

The gods, impressed by Alcestis' sacrifice, wanted to honor the princess' unconditional love and heroism. So they decided to dedicate the redemption of Alcestis' soul to the Greek hero and return her to Admetus, younger and more beautiful than ever.

The couple continued to live happily and had three sons, who later took part in the Greek expedition against Troy.

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