A masterly translation of one of the greatest of Greek dramas. [via]
Their lives are the briefest concession,
My concession, a nod of permission.
As if I dozed off and dreamed a little.
I take a dream-and Admetos calls it his life.
-Death in Alcestis
In the years before his death at age sixty-eight in 1998, Ted Hughes translated several classical works with great energy and ingenuity. His Tales from Ovid was called "one of the great works of our century" (Michael Hofmann, The Times, London), and his Phèdre was acclaimed on stage in New York as well as in London. Hughes's version of Euripides' Alcestis, the last of his translations, has the great brio of those works, and it is a powerful and moving addition to the body of work from the final phase of Hughes's career.
Euripides was, with Aeschylus and Sophocles, one of the greatest of Greek dramatists. Alcestis tells the story of the grief of King Admetos for his wife, Alcestis, who has given her young life so that he may live. As translated by Hughes, the story has a distinctly modern sensibility while retaining the spirit of antiquity. It is a profound meditation on human mortality.