Ion of Chios Analysis


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Ion (yawn of KI-ahs) lived on Chios and in Athens, visiting elsewhere. He seems to have been a supporter of Athens during its wars with Sparta, favoring the conciliatory conservative politician Cimon and disliking the democratic Pericles for boastfulness and pride. As a resident alien, he competed about ten times against native Athenians in fields of tragedy, comedy, and dithyrambic choruses. It was said that after winning in both tragedy and dithyramb, he gave a measure of free wine to all Athenian citizens. After his death, Aristophanes in his comedy Eirīnī (421 b.c.e.; Peace, 1837) showed Athens’ gratitude by punning that Ion had become the immortal morning star, Aoion. A later critic said his dramas were polished but lacked fire. Like his other writings, the plays are lost.