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Everybody knows that trauma and rape are very much on students’ minds these days (giving occasion to a rather different kind of performance on the Columbia/Barnard campus), but, far from inspiring any content “read in” to the play, these issues and the feelings they arouse only enhanced themes that Euripides stressed in his view of the mixed human and divine family of ancient Greece.Apart from that, it is astonishing how simple and basic are the circumstances that create unhappiness for humans.
He has misunderstood the Pythia’s statement that the first person he sees on leaving her will be his son—but by gift, Apollo’s gift, not by his own seed.
While Ion is intimately bound to Apollo’s temple, they can approach the god only as postulants seeking a solution through the obscure prophecy of the Pythia, Apollo’s earthly voice.
Hermes, who speaks the introduction, has already told us about Creusa’s rape by Apollo—a violent one—her concealment of it, and her exposure of the child in the cave where the god had inseminated her.
Upon hearing this, Creusa believes that she will be sidelined by Xuthus’ bastard and takes measures to protect herself, advised and abetted by a knavish servant who had tutored her father and is especially conscious of the family’s distinction and racial purity.
She plans to have the servant put poison in the ritual wine that Xuthus and Ion will drink at the sacrifice celebrating his finding, but Apollo prevents this.