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.
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.
Following Athena’s confirmation of their relationship, Creusa and Ion accept each other as son and mother, and the future of Athens’ royalty and their descendants through Ion—the Ionians—is settled.
The foreigner Xuthus, however, will be left under the delusion that Ion is his natural son, as he believed at first, lest he resort to any of the desperate acts impulsively set in motion by Creusa.
In emphasizing that, Rachel Herzog made a decision both savvy and sound.
It was reinforced by some intelligently considered cuts, necessary to bring the play down to an audience-friendly ninety minutes, but she could have achieved the same emphases without any cuts—which is to say that her interpretation remained true to the text.
Well before the time of the play’s production between 415 and 410 BC, at least some Greeks doubted the truth of this.
An elaborate plot this—one, it seems, Euripides invented out of meager scraps of Attic tradition.