An NPR recommendation, of all things that even I find chagrining these days, led me to the enjoyable, Sapphic take on the Greek legend of Alcestis. Alcestis’ story as passed down by legend (to Wikipedia) is one of female devotion to her husband. It goes like this:
Alcestis’ newlywed husband Admetus foolishly made the impertinent mistake of not offering a sacrifice to the goddess Artemis on his wedding night. Gods can be quite temperamental, so upon finding his wedding bed, he found a bed of lethal snakes in addition to his wife. Another awesome God, Apollo, appeared and graciously said that if anyone would volunteer to die in Admetus’ place, he could live. After a particularly long and uncomfortable silence from all his gathered friends (I’m not really sure just what was expected there), Alcestis spoke up. She was whisked away to Hades. After a period of serious pouting by Admetus, Heracles went down to Hades and rescued her.