In Greek mythology, Alcestis was the beautiful daughter of Pelias, the king of Iolcus in Thessaly. Pelias promised his daughter in marriage to any man who came to get her in a chariot pulled by a lion and a boar. Admetus, the king of Pherae in Thessaly, performed this feat—with the help of the god Apollo*. In punishment for angering Zeus*, Apollo had been sent to work as a shepherd for Admetus. Because the king had treated him well, Apollo agreed to help him win Alcestis.

underworld land of the dead

When Admetus was near death, Apollo asked the Fates to save his life. They agreed, as long as someone else would volunteer to die in his place. Everyone refused but Alcestis, who offered to sacrifice herself to save her husband. Some stories say that Persephone, goddess of the underworld, intervened and allowed Alcestis to live because she admired the woman's devotion to Admetus. Other tales relate that the hero Hercules*, a guest at Admetus's palace, wrestled with Death when it came to take Alcestis. He won, forcing Death to let her live.

See also Apollo ; Fate ; Hercules ; Persephone ; Zeus .

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