Ion Essay, Research Paper
There is a deep sense of realism that lies in the play Ion. The opening of the play arouses an old wrong, the seduction of Creusa by Apollo, which slowly develops into a tangled plot of deceit. The theme of the play is unique in how it is centered on a human dilemma that many can associate with in some way.
From the beginning, one can only imagine the outcome of Apollo s seduction of Creusa. To make matters worse she has a child. There is an uncanny feeling of darkness and silence as she is made to keep her lips sealed. It appears that she gave up her son from fear of her parents. Like many young girls today she made a drastic decision in order to conceal her pregnancy. Apollo in this play is given human attributes. He is depicted as a barbarian who truly lacks the goodness of a god. Indeed a critical problem has developed with Apollo s seduction of Creusa.
Apollo from the beginning is perceived as a demanding figure. Creusa is seen as the passive figure with no say in her circumstances. How could a mortal expect to make a god care for a child? This is where Euripides attempts to bind the mortals and the gods together. Apollo and Creusa share a common problem, and each makes different decisions in how they will go about solving that problem.
Immediately after Creusa leaves Ion in the cave, Apollo rescues him. Apollo s actions are strange in that he goes as far as to catch the soul of the priestess so that she would care for his son but yet refused to give aid to Creusa. As a youth, Ion is appointed as a guard of Apollo s gold, then an altar attendant and later the chief caretaker. Ion knows nothing of his birth, and asks no questions because of his deep respect for Apollo. He is happy in his service to the gods never knowing the agony that his mother is suffering as she longs for her lost son. It is critical to recognize that throughout the story no one acknowledges Apollo as the agitator of all the problems.
Creusa marries Xuthus and they find themselves unable to have children. While she longs to have a child, she can only regret the loss of her son years ago. Because they desire to have children, they go to Delphi to consult the gods. Creusa goes to Delphi feeling betrayed by the gods. She is wondering how she can possibly find justice in gods who are unjust themselves. She thinks her situation can not get any worse but does not know what awaits. As the play continues, Creusa comes face to face with her son. But where is Apollo to correct his mess? He does not clear up the problem but only makes matters worse by giving Ion to Xuthus as a son. What type of god gives a son one person at the expense of another?
Xuthus is quick to present all that is his to Ion, without a word to Creusa. Yet, Ion is the one who has to bring him to reality. Ion sheds light on the fact that although Xuthus might be overjoyed to have found a son his wife remains childless. She will have many reasons to hate him. Instead of Xuthus going to his wife and explaining, he forms a plan of deceit. He decides to throw a party for his son without Creusa s knowledge. He goes so far as to threaten the servants into silence. However, the servants are loyal to Creusa and are the ones to inform her of the traitorous news. No wonder she is crushed. Not only did a god neglect her, but her own husband whom she looked after and shared all of her hopes with deceives her. She can only flounder in her grief wondering how the gods would give him a child while she remains with none. The old servant does not help her to cope sensibly with the situation. Instead encourages her to kill Ion. What the servant is saying sounds very appealing to her but she is afraid of spoiling her reputation. With the help of the servants, she devised a plan to kill Ion, by poisoning him with Gorgon s blood.
Where again I ask is Apollo? The problem is now getting completely out of hand. Creusa without knowing it has just attempted to kill her son, the one she has yearned for all of those years. Just as soon as Creusa s plan fails, Ion attempts to kill her. Without the knowledge that she is his mother.
This could possibly be seen as the climax of the story. The outcome seems certain when Creusa tries to kill Ion. We can only imagine that he will have no mercy on her. Creusa finds safety at the altar of Apollo for whom she holds no respect. However, the story does not end in tragedy. Out of nowhere, Pythia, the priestess who raised Ion, comes with information that will change their lives forever. She attempts to help Ion to understand how he can walk away from the situation with clean hands and a pure heart. She even brings the basket, which he was found in as a child. He is now wondering why he had never been shown the basket before. Apollo s deception is now ending. Not only did Creusa identify everything in the basket but also she is finally able to disclose his identity. As Ion realizes that his father is Apollo, he wants to know why Apollo would give his own son away. Creusa is satisfied with the possession of her son, and is content to let the moral situation of Apollo be put aside. However, for Ion this is not the case. For all of his life, he had held the belief that the gods would never lie. He knows that if Apollo is truly his father a lie has been told. This was done not only by his father but by a god. Athena appears and verifies that Apollo is his father. All that Athena can do is appeal to Ions faith. But by now, the basis of his faith is completely destroyed. Apollo is now revealed for who he truly is. In order to cover up his deeds, he chooses to make Creusa and Ion partners in his falsehood.
The framework of the Ion does not fit the traditional Greek Mythology. It is not every day that the gods lie, and start a whole line of tangled situations. Ion although written in 420B.C. is very easy to relate to in the 20th century. Ion is a play that brings the mythological and supernatural to life. With a happy ending, all mortals can enjoy.