Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Years before, Phoebus Apollo raped Creusa, daughter of King Erechtheus, who subsequently and in secret gave birth to a son. By Apollo’s command she hid the infant in a cave, where Hermes was sent to carry him to the temple of Apollo. There he was reared as a temple ministrant. Meanwhile, Creusa married Xuthus as a reward for his aid in the Athenian war against the Euboeans, but the marriage remained without issue. After years of frustration, Xuthus and Creusa decided to make a pilgrimage to Delphi and ask the god for aid in getting a son.
At dawn Ion emerges from the temple of Apollo to sweep the floors, chase away the birds, set out the laurel boughs, and make the usual morning sacrifice. Creusa’s handmaidens come to admire the temple built upon the navel of the world and to announce the imminent arrival of their mistress. At the meeting of Creusa and Ion, Creusa confirms the story that her father was drawn from the earth by Athena and was swallowed up by the earth at the end of his life. The credulous Ion explains that his own birth, too, is shrouded in mystery, for he appeared out of nowhere at the temple and was reared by the priestess of Apollo. The greatest sorrow of his life, he says, is not knowing who his mother is. Creusa sympathizes and cautiously reveals that she has a friend with a similar problem, a woman bore a son to Apollo, only to have the infant disappear and to suffer childlessness for the rest of her life.
(The entire section is 992 words.)
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