Friday, September 6, 2019

National origins Essay Example for Free

National origins Essay As a playwright Euripides always had a tendency to explore less popular tragic myths, or to look at uncommon versions of popular tragic tales, such as he did with Helen. In Ion however, Euripides takes this idea even further and totally rewrites the myth of Ion. According to Athenian Myth, Hellen was the eldest son of Deucalion and Pyrrha and he married the nymph Orseis, by whom he had three sons, Dorus, Aeolus and Xouthos. Dorus and Aeolus gave their names to the Dorian and Aeolians respectively, whilst Xouthos married the Athenian princess Kreousa, having two children with her before dying in exile in the northern Peloponnese. The first of these sons, Achaeus, returned to Thessaly, his fathers homeland, whilst the second son, Ion, was recalled to Athens where he died leading the Athenian forces against the Eleusians. His people were later driven from the Peloponnese and founded the Ionian colonies in the East. This is probably all the Athenians knew about the man named Ion, not much more than a name in their histories. Euripides however, presents a completely different story. Kreousa is the son of Erectheus, who sacrificed his other daughter to the gods on order to ensure a victory over King Eumolpus of Eleusis. Xouthos is a Thessalian, a son of Aeolus, and allied to Athens in a war against Chalcis, a town on the island of Euboea, and is married to Kreousa as a reward for his services to Athens. He then invents the story that Kreousa was raped by the God Apollo before she was married to Xouthos and gave birth to a child whom she abandoned in a cradle in a cave in the Long Rocks where Apollo had raped her. Apollo however, sent Hermes to rescue the child and take him to Delphi where he was raised by Apollos priestess and worked in the temple. This is all explained to the audience by Hermes, who also says that later the boy will be renamed Ion, so the audience know exactly who the boy is. Xouthos and Kreousa however, arriving at Delphi to ask Apollo for an oracle on why they can not have children, have no idea who the boy is. Xouthos is told by Apollo that when he leaves the temple the first person he meets will be his child. The first person he meets is the, as yet not renamed, Ion and Xouthos immediately explains to him what has happened and renames him Ion because he is the first person Xouthos met. Kreousa, unfortunately receives news of this from another source and reasons that Ion must be his son by another woman and the two of them are plotting to oust her and seize control of Athens. Therefore she concocts a plan to kill Ion and sends one of her slaves to poison him at the feast Xouthos is planning. Ion is saved, fortunately, due to Apollos intervention and he learns that it was Kreousa trying to kill him. He chased her to Apollos altar where she took sanctuary. Ion shouted that he would kill her and, hearing this, Apollo sends the Pythia out to show Ion the c radle he was brought to Delphi in. Kreousa recognises the cradle and realises that Ion is her son, then proves this by telling Ion correctly what is still in the cradle. Ion, Kreousa and Xouthos then return to Athens. This story is not created entirely by Euripides, it is a familiar story of a child of a royal family, raised abroad for whatever reason, and meeting his parents without recognising them. This is very similar to the stories of Oedipus Rex, in Sophocles play, Cyrus, and several other mythological Greek figures. The plot development is also very similar to his other plays, especially Electra and Helen. The plays involve lost siblings, mother / son, father / daughter, husband / wife etc who meet after a separation of many years and fail to recognise each other. Usually after they recognise each other but sometimes before there is usually a plot to kill those who they feel are in the wrong or to escape to some safe place. Ion is unusual in this since the Kreousa is plotting to kill Ion, whom she has not yet recognised, but abandons her plot when she realises who he is. The story Hermes tells at the beginning of the play about the rape of Kreousa by Apollo, and the life of the young Ion is told in such a manner that it recalls many of the foundation myths of Athens. The first of these is the myth of Cecrops, first King of Athens. He was said to be, autochthonus (which translates literally as born of the very earth), and half man half snake. Secondly, the myth of Ericthonius who was also believed to be autochthonus and given, in a chest, to the daughters of Cecrops to guard by Athene with strict instruction not to look inside. The daughters did and were driven insane by what they saw, reputedly either half man half snake like Cecrops or possibly even fully snake. Thirdly Erectheus was the son of Pandion, the son of Ericthonius and the nymph Praxithea.

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