Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 670
Euripides's Ion is, essentially, an origin story for the Ionian race in play form, meant to be performed for an audience of high- and low-born citizens. The Ionians are one of the four ancient Greek tribes (the others being the Dorians, the Aeolians, and the Achaeans). Ion is considered one of the classic Greek tragedies, and it employs many of the devices of early Greek storytelling, primarily the use of irony and what is now known as the "Greek Chorus."
The Greek Chorus is just what you would think: a group of people who most often stood to the side of the stage and served as narrators for the play—sometimes speaking and sometimes singing to convey important information to the audience. In this way it is quite unique.
For at least the last 500 years, with some notable exceptions, most drama has consisted solely of the dialogue and actions of the characters, which presents the obvious problem of communicating the characters' inner thoughts. The Greek Chorus solves that problem.
In Ion, the title character is introduced by the god Hermes as an orphan he found abandoned on a mountain. Hermes rescued the orphan and delivered him to a Priestess in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to be raised.
Outside the temple one day, a teenaged Ion (although not called that name yet) meets Creusa and her handmaidens (who serve as the Greek Chorus). Creusa is there to ask the oracles (fortune-tellers of a sort) why she has not been able to conceive a child with her husband Xuthus, something she desperately wants. She disguises this fact from the boy.
Xuthus arrives at the temple and is told by the oracles that the first man he meets when leaving the temple will be his son. He meets the young man and as they walk, Xuthus becomes convinced that this is his son, and he gives him the name Ion, but they decide to keep this fact secret.
Creusa's handmaidens, however, cannot keep the secret from Creusa, who assumes, after some bad advice, that Ion is the product of her husband's infidelity. She decides to murder Ion, but he finds out and seeks revenge on her in the temple. The Priestess then explains to Creusa that Ion is, in fact, her son (with the god Apollo): the son she abandoned. The two are overjoyed at having found one another.
At the end of the play, the goddess Athena appears and foretells that Ion will one day rule and that the land and its people will be named in honor of him.
Another of the primary devices in Ion is the use...
(The entire section contains 670 words.)
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