In front of the palace of Admetus, King of Thessaly, Apollo addresses the kingdom. He was forced to serve a mortal man as punishment for killing the cyclops, and now his time of atonement is complete. He revered his host, King Admetus, and when it was time for Fates to collect the king, Apollo tricked them and made them agree to take someone else in Admetus’ place. However, there is a problem: No one was willing to take Admetus’ place in death except for his wife Alcestis. As Apollo finishes recounting the recent events, Death arrives to collect Alcestis. The two gods confront each other. Apollo asks that Death delay taking Alcestis, but Death refuses as his reputation and honor are at stake. Apollo curses him--“My hatred be upon you”--and leaves. Death enters the palace to prepare Alcestis for death by cutting her hair.
The chorus of Thessalian elders enters, confused as to whether Alcestis is living or dead. Everyone knows she must die, but they are unsure of when it will happen. A
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