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Ion


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A: Euripides Pf:c.413 bc, Athens! Tr: 1782 G: Greek drama in verse S: Before the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, in the mythical past C: 5m, 3f, extras, chorus (f)Hermes tells how the childless Creusa and Xuthus are coming to seek help from the oracle at Delphi, unaware that Creusa already has a son who resides there. The son, Ion, had been fathered by Apollo and abandoned as a baby in the temple precincts. Creusa arrives at the temple and tells Ion of her lost child. Ion doubts whether Apollo's oracle will be willing to betray Apollo's secret, but she and Xuthus enter the temple in search of the truth. The oracle declares that Xuthus' child will be the first person he meets on leaving the temple. Encountering Ion, he joyfully greets him as his son. Ion accepts the word of Apollo but is still anxious to find out who his mother is. When Creusa learns that Xuthus has found a son and that she will have to accept his illegitimate offspring into her house, she plots to poison Ion. The plot is discovered, and Creusa is condemned to death. As Ion comes to exact revenge, the Priestess of Apollo brings the cradle in which Ion was found as a baby. When Creusa recognizes the cradle, mother and son are reconciled. Athene appears to command Ion to return with his mother and stepfather to Athens, where Ion shall henceforth rule.

A: Euripides Pf:c.413 bc, Athens! Tr: 1782 G: Greek drama in verse S: Before the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, in the mythical past C: 5m, 3f, extras, chorus (f)

The reconciliation of a long-lost foundling with his mother, which takes such a tragic twist in Oedipus the King, is here given its first treatment with a happy outcome, and was to become a popular theme, not only of Greek New Comedy, but also of comedies throughout the ages. The averting of tragedy is achieved here not, as so often in Euripides, by divine intervention, but by producing a stage property, the cradle in which Ion was abandoned. Though not one of Euripides' greatest plays, Ion has an impressively intricate plot, which veers between potential tragedy and joyous revelation.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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