The sacrifice of a mother goes beyond life and death.


The sacrifice, a wise mother can make for the sake of her children, goes beyond life and death. As I was reading the story of Alcestis from the book of Greek Gods and Heroes by Robert Graves, I felt an immense admiration for this particular character. King Admetus was Alcestis’ husband and he was selfish like hell. Whenever he did some good to others, he did it so he could gain some favor on another day. He was smart and very manipulative too; he never asked for the favour directly or right away. He worked loooong plans.

So, since Admetus did a favour to Apollo once, he asked Apollo who asked his sister Artemis to ask Hades, the King of Underworld, that when it was Admetus turn to die would it matter if someone else dies for him instead? Hades answered that it did not matter for as long as the other person would die willingly and timely. So when the time came, King Admetus asked people to die for him but no one in his kingdom was willing to die, not even the person with incurable disease. He too had hopes that someone may find a cure and he will continue to live. Not even Admetus’ parents, who were 100 years old, were willing to die for him, because they said every day seems even more precious at that age.

His wife Alcestis was coming back home from a long trip, when Admetus greeted her at the gate whining, “Nobody will die for me. I suppose it is useless to ask even you, who pretend to love me best?” What a manipulator this Admetus was. So, Alcestis kissed her two children goodbye and swallowed the deadly poison. She asked Hermes to take her to Hades at once.

When she arrived at the underworld she met Persephone, the Queen of the underworld, who refused to accept Alcestis as a substitute for her selfish husband. So, she sent Alcesits right back to her children, but Hades needed a soul and so he went back to her. After much quarrel between Hades and Persephone they finally settled to live Alcesits alone, and take a pig’s soul instead of King Admetus’. He weren’t worth much anyhow.

Hermes, the god who accompanies souls to the underworld asked Alcesits why was she willing to sacrifice herself for an unworthy husband like Admetus? She answered, “I did it for my children.” If Admetus would have died, his brother would have taken the throne, and he would have murdered her children at once. All make sense now.

So, the moral of the story: When you see a mother making any kind of sacrifices, like, staying married to a selfish husband, or divorcing a “so perfect” husband, and giving you reasons that may seem stupid or nonsense to you, do not jump into conclusion and do not judge them. There are hidden reasons that cannot always be spoken.

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