Alceste Dies for Her Husband Admetus. A.M. 2726

WAG 7680


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. This composition was used for a headpiece in 'Le Souvenir: A Pocket Remembrancer', printed by J Cary for Godwin, 16 January 1822. Alceste (also called Alcestis) was the most beautiful of the daughters of Pelias, King of Iolcus in Thessaly. Admentus was the son of Pheres, King of Phenae, also in Thessaly. In order to win Alceste, Admentus was required to harness both a lion and a boar to a chariot. The god Apollo (temporarily condemned to be the slave of Admentus because he had killed the Cyclopes), helped him achieve this and win Alcestis. Apollo also persuaded the Fates to prolong the life of Admentus in exchange for another life. Alceste agreed to sacrifice herself, but was saved by Heracles who wrestled with Death for her life.