Ion , By Euripides

Hermes
Ion
Chorus
Creusa
Xuthus
Tutor
Attendant of Creusa
Priestess of Apollo
Athena

Before the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The sun is about to rise. Hermes enters.

Hermes

Atlas, who wears away heaven, the ancient home of the gods, on his bronze shoulders, was the father of Maia by a goddess; she bore me, Hermes, to great Zeus; and I am the gods' servant. [5] I have come to Delphi, this land where Phoebus from his central throne chants to mortals, always declaring the present and the future.

For Hellas has a famous city, which received its name from Pallas of the golden lance; [10] here Apollo forced a union on Creusa, the child of Erechtheus, where the rocks, turned to the north beneath the hill of Pallas' Athenian land, are called Macrai by the lords of Attica. Unknown to her father --such was the pleasure of the god-- [15] she bore the weight in her womb. When the time came, Creusa gave birth in the house to a child, and brought the infant to the same cave where the god had bedded her, and there exposed him to die in the round circle of a hollow cradle, [20] observant of the customs of her ancestors, and of Erichthonius, the earth-born. For the daughter of Zeus set beside him two serpents to guard his body, and gave him in charge to the daughters of Aglauros; [25] from which the Erechthidae have a custom to rear their children in gold serpents. Ornaments which the girl had she hung around her son, and left him to die. And Phoebus, as my brother, asked me this: "O brother, go to the native-born people [30] of glorious Athens, for you know the city of the goddess; take the new-born baby from the hollow rock, with his cradle and baby-clothes; bring him to my shrine at Delphi, and place him at the very entrance of my temple; [35] The rest--know that the child is mine--will be my care." To gratify my brother Loxias I took up the woven basket and brought it here, and placed the boy at the base of this temple, [40] opening up the wreathed cradle, so that the infant might be seen.

Hermes

It happened that, as the sun rose, the priestess entered the god's prophetic shrine; she saw the baby and marvelled that some girl of Delphi had dared [45] to cast her secret child into the house of the god; she was eager to take it away from the shrine; but she let the harsh intent gave way to pity--and the god worked with her, so the child might not be hurled out of his house--she took up the child and raised it. [50] She did not know that Phoebus was the father, nor who the mother was, nor did the child know about his parents.

When young he played round the shrine, and was nourished there; but when he grew to manhood, the Delphians made him guardian of the god's treasures, [55] a trusted steward of all; and here in the temple of the god he has lived a holy life. But Creusa, the mother of the child, married Xuthus in these circumstances: a wave of war came over Athens and the Chalcidians, [60] who hold the land of Euboea; he joined their efforts, and with them drove out the enemy by his spear; for this he received the honor of marriage with Creusa; he was no native, but born an Achaean from Aeolus, the son of Zeus. Though married a long time [65] they are childless; so they have come to this oracular shrine of Phoebus, in longing for a child. Loxias is driving fortune on to this point, nor is he forgetful, as he seems. For he will give his child to Xuthus on entering this shrine, [70] and he will say the boy was born from Xuthus, so that Creusa may recognize the child when he comes to her house, and Phoebus' union with her may be kept secret, and the boy have his due. He will cause him, founder of the land of Asia, [75] to be called by the name of Ion throughout Greece. But I will go to this cave of laurels, so that I may learn what is fated for the child; I see this son of Loxias coming out to adorn the gates before the shrine with laurel boughs. [80] I am the first of the gods to give him that name, Ion, which he is about to have. Hermes vanishes. Ion and the attendants of the temple enter.

Hermes

Ion

Already this radiant four-horse chariot, the sun, flames over the earth, and at this fire of heaven the stars [85] flee into the sacred night; the untrod Parnassian cliffs, shining, receive the wheel of day for mortals. The smoke of dry myrtle flies to Phoebus' roof. [90] The woman of Delphi sits on the sacred tripod, and sings out to the Hellenes whatever Apollo cries to her. But you Delphian servants of Phoebus, [95] go to the silver whirlpools of Castalia; come to the temple when you have bathed in its pure waters; it is good to keep your mouth holy in speech and give good words from your lips [100] to those who wish to consult the oracle. But I will labor at the task that has been mine from childhood, with laurel boughs and sacred wreaths making pure the entrance to Phoebus' temple, [105] and the ground moist with drops of water; and with my bow I will chase the crowds of birds that harm the holy offerings. For as I was born without a mother and a father, [110] I serve the temple of Phoebus that nurtured me. The attendants leave. Ion busies himself before the temple as he continues to sing.

Come, new-grown, ministering bough, of loveliest laurel, you who sweep the altar [115] under the temple of Apollo; you are from the immortal gardens, where the secred drops water the holy foliage of myrtle, [120] sending forth an ever-flowing stream. With this laurel I sweep the pavement of the god all day, along with the sun's swift wing, my daily service. [125] O Paean, O Paean, may you be fortunate, child of Leto!

Lovely is the labor, o Phoebus, I carry out for you before your house, [130] honoring your prophetic shrine; glorious my labor, to be a slave for gods, not mortal but immortal; I do not tire [135] of laboring over my auspicious work. Phoebus is a father to me; I praise the one who feeds me; the name of father, beneficial to me, I give to [140] Phoebus who rules this temple. O Paean, O Paean, may you be fortunate, child of Leto!

But I will cease from labor [145] with the laurel branch and I wil hurl from golden vases Gaia's fountain, which Castalia's eddies pour out, casting out the moist drops, [150] since I am chaste. May I never cease to serve Phoebus in this manner; or, if I do, may it be with good fortune. Ah, ah! Already the birds of Parnassus have left their nests, [155] and come here. I forbid you to approach the walls and the golden house. I will reach you with my bow, herald of Zeus, though you conquer [160] with your beak the strength of all other birds. Here comes another, a swan, to the rim of the temple. Move your crimson foot elsewhere! Phoebus' lyre, that sings with you, [165] would not protect you from my bow. Alter your wings' course; go to the Delian lake; if you do not obey, you will steep your lovely melody in blood. [170] Ah, ah! what is this new bird that approaches; you will not place under the cornice a straw-built nest for your children, will you? My singing bow will keep you off. Will you not obey? [175] Go away and bring up your offspring by the eddies of Alpheus, or go to the Isthmian grove, so that the offerings, and the temple of Phoebus, are not harmed. . . . and yet I am ashamed to kill you, [180] for to mortals you bear the messages of the gods; but I will be subject to Phoebus in my appointed tasks, and I will never cease my service to those who nourish me.

The Chorus enters.

Chorus

Not only in our holy Athens [185] are there halls of the gods with beautiful columns, and worship of Apollo who guards the streets; but also in the house of Loxias, Leto's son, there is a light of two countenances, with lovely eyes.

[190] Look! come see, the son of Zeus is killing the Lernean Hydra with a golden sickle; my dear, look at it!

I see it. And another near him, [195] who is raising a fiery torch-- is he the one whose story is told when I am at my loom, the warrior Iolaus, [200] who joins with the son of Zeus in bearing his labors?

And look at this one sitting on a winged horse; he is killing the mighty fire-breathing creature that has three bodies. [205] I am glancing around everywhere. See the battle of the giants, on the stone walls.

I am looking at it, my friends.

Do you see the one [210] brandishing her gorgon shield against Enceladus?

I see Pallas, my own goddess.

Now what? the mighty thunderbolt, blazing at both ends, in the far-shooting hands of Zeus?

I see it; [215] he is burning the furious Mimas to ashes in the fire.

And Bacchus, the roarer, is killing another of the sons of Earth with his ivy staff, unfit for war. Chorus

You there, I mean the one by the temple; [220] is it lawful to walk into the sanctuary?

Ion

Strangers, it is not lawful.

Chorus

May we ask you something?

Ion

What do you want to know?

Chorus

Does the temple of Phoebus really hold the center of the earth?

Ion

Yes, adorned with garlands, and gorgons all around.

Chorus

[225] So fame reports.

Ion

If you offer the honey cake before the temple, and you wish to ask something of Phoebus, advance to the altar; before the sheep have been sacrificed, do not approach the recesses of the temple.

Chorus

I understand; I do not wish to transgress [230] the god's law; what is outside delights my eyes.

Ion

Take a full view of everything that is allowed.

Chorus

My masters allowed me to to look at this sanctuary.

Ion

You are the slaves of what house?

Chorus

[235] The temple of Pallas is the house that reared my sovereigns; but the one you ask about is here.

Creusa and attendants enter.

Ion

There is nobility in you, and you have an appearance that is a witness to your character, lady, whoever you are. For most men at least, you would know from their appearance if they are well-born. [240] Ah! You amaze me, that you closed your eyes and watered your noble cheeks with tears, when you saw the holy oracle of Loxias. Why are you sorrowful, lady? [245] Does that which pleases all others who see the sanctuary of the god bring tears to your eyes here?

Creusa

O stranger, it is not foolish of you to wonder at my tears. When I saw Apollo's halls, [250] I recalled an ancient memory. I suppose that my mind was at home, though I am present here. O unhappy women! O gods, what deeds are yours! What then? To what may we ascribe justice, if we are destroyed by the injustice of those in power?

Ion

[255] What inexplicable thing grieves you, lady?

Creusa

Nothing; I have shot my arrow; now I am silent, do not concern yourself further.

Ion

Who are you? From what land have you come? What country is your fatherland? By what name should we call you?

Creusa

[260] Creusa is my name, Erechtheus my father, the city of Athens my fatherland.

Ion

O you that dwell in a famous city and were brought up by noble parents, how I marvel at you, lady.

Creusa

I am fortunate so far, stranger, and no further.

Ion

[265] By the gods, truly, as the tale goes among mortals--

Creusa

What are you asking about, stranger, that you want to know?

Ion

Your father's ancestor grew from the earth?

Creusa

Yes, Erichthonius; but my family is no benefit to me.

Ion

And did Athena take him up from the earth?

Creusa

[270] Into her virgin hands; she was not his mother.

Ion

And gave him, as paintings usually show--

Creusa

To the daughters of Kekrops to keep, unseen.

Ion

I have heard that the maidens opened the vessel of the goddess.

Creusa

And so they died, making the promontory of the rock bloody.

Ion

[275] I see. Well, what about this? Is it true, or a vain rumor--

Creusa

What are you asking? For I am at leisure.

Ion

Did your father Erechtheus sacrifice your sisters?

Creusa

He dared to kill the maidens, as a sacrifice for their country.

Ion

And you were the only one of your sisters saved?

Creusa

[280] I was a new-born infant in my mother's arms.

Ion

Did a hollow of the earth truly hide your father?

Creusa

The blows of the sea-god's trident destroyed him.

Ion

There is a place there called Makrai?

Creusa

Why do you ask this? How you have reminded me of something!

Ion

[285] Phoebus and the Pythian lightning honor it.

Creusa

. . . Would that I had never seen it!

Ion

Why do you hate the place very dear to the god?

Creusa

No reason; I know of a shameful deed in a cave.

Ion

But what Athenian married you, lady?

Creusa

[290] No citizen, but a foreigner from another land.

Ion

Who? He must be someone of noble birth.

Creusa

Xuthus, born from Aeolus and Zeus.

Ion

And how as a stranger did he have you, a citizen?

Creusa

There is a city, Euboea, which is a neighbor to Athens--

Ion

[295] Divided by a watery boundary, they say.

Creusa

He destroyed it, in common battle with the Athenians.

Ion

He came as an ally? And then he married you?

Creusa

Taking me as the dowry of war and the prize of his spear.

Ion

Have you come to the oracle with your husband, or alone?

Creusa

[300] With him; he turned aside to the shrine of Trophonius.

Ion

To view it, or for the sake of prophecy?

Creusa

He wishes to learn one word from that shrine and from Phoebus'.

Ion

Have you come for the sake of harvests, or for children?

Creusa

We are without children, though married a long time

Ion

[305] You have never borne a child, but you are childless?

Creusa

Phoebus knows about my lack of children.

Ion

Unhappy one, that you are fortunate in all else, but not in this!

Creusa

But who are you? How I call your mother happy!

Ion

I am called the slave of the god, lady.

Creusa

[310] A city's offering, or sold by someone?

Ion

I only know this; I am called Loxias'.

Creusa

Then in turn, stranger, I pity you.

Ion

Because I do not know my mother, or my ancestors.

Creusa

Do you live in this temple, or in a house?

Ion

[315] The whole home of the god is mine, wherever I may sleep.

Creusa

Were you a child when you came to the shrine, or a youth?

Ion

Those who seem to know say that I was an infant.

Creusa

And which Delphian woman nourished you with milk?

Ion

I never knew the breast. The one who brought me up--

Creusa

[320] Who, sorrowful one? I have found an ailment like my own.

Ion

The priestess of Apollo, I consider her my mother.

Creusa

With whose support have you have come to manhood?

Ion

The altars have fed me, and any strangers that come here.

Creusa

Your mother is unhappy; who was she, then?

Ion

[325] Perhaps my birth is some woman's wrong.

Creusa

But you have a livelihood; for you are well dressed.

Ion

I am adorned with these by the god whom I serve.

Creusa

You have not been eager to search for your family?

Ion

I have no token of proof, lady.

Creusa

[330] Alas! Another woman has suffered as your mother did.

Ion

Who? If she could assist my troubles, I would be delighted.

Creusa

One for whose sake I have come here before my husband.

Ion

What do you want? So that I may help you, lady.

Creusa

I want to learn a secret oracle from Pheobus.

Ion

[335] Tell me; I shall be your sponsor for the rest.

Creusa

Then hear the story.--but Shame prevents me.

Ion

Then you will accomplish nothing; that goddess is an idle one.

Creusa

One of my friends says that she had intercourse with Apollo.

Ion

A woman with Apollo? Do not say that, stranger!

Creusa

[340] And she bore a child to the god, without her father's knowledge.

Ion

It is not so; she is ashamed of a man's wrong.

Creusa

She says not; and the wretched woman has suffered.

Ion

What did she do to suffer, if she was coupled with the god?

Creusa

She exposed out of doors the child that she bore.

Ion

[345] Where is the exposed child? Is it alive?

Creusa

No one knows.This is what I am asking the oracle.

Ion

If it is no longer alive, how was it destroyed?

Creusa

She expects that wild animals killed the unfortunate one.

Ion

By what sign did she know this?

Creusa

[350] When she came to the place where she had exposed him, she could no longer find him.

Ion

Was there a drop of blood in the path?

Creusa

She says not. Although she went back and forth over much ground.

Ion

How much time has passed since the child was killed?

Creusa

If he were indeed alive, he would be your age.

Ion

[355] The god has wronged him; the mother is unhappy.

Creusa

She did not bear any other child afterwards.

Ion

What if Phoebus took him and brought him up in secret?

Creusa

He does wrong to enjoy a common pleasure alone.

Ion

Alas! This misfortune is in accord with my sorrow.

Creusa

[360] Stranger, I think an unhappy mother longs for you also.

Ion

Do not draw me to griefs that I have forgotten!

Creusa

I am silent; can you fulfil what I am asking you about?

Ion

Do you know what part of your enquiry is especially ailing?

Creusa

What is not diseased for that wretched woman?

Ion

[365] How shall the god prophesy what he wants to hide?

Creusa

He will, if he is indeed seated on the public tripod of Hellas.

Ion

He is ashamed of the deed; do not convict him.

Creusa

But the one who suffered this misfortune is in pain.

Ion

There is no one who will be your interpreter. [370] If Phoebus appeared evil in his own home, he would rightly do some harm to the one who gave you the oracle. Cease this, lady. There must be no consultation contrary to the god. For we would come to such folly as that, [375] if we shall work on the gods to say what they are not willing to say, either by sacrifice of sheep at the altar or through the flight of birds. For what we violently strive after, when the gods are unwilling, we possess as unwilling goods, lady; [380] whatever they give willingly is a benefit to us.

Chorus Leader

There are many misfortunes for many mortals, and their shapes are various. One could scarcely ever find one piece of good fortune in man's life.

Creusa

O Phoebus, you are not just to her either there or here; [385] though she is absent, her words are present.You did not save your child, whom you ought to have saved; nor, though a prophet, will you speak to the mother who is asking you, so that, if he is no more, he may be honored by a tomb, but, if he lives . . . [390] But I must let this go, if I am prevented by the god from learning what I wish.

But, stranger, since I see my noble husband Xuthus has left the cave of Trophonius and is near, [395] be silent before him about our conversation, so that I may not be disgraced by my secret ministry and the talk may not go where I have not unfolded it to him. For women have difficulties with their husbands, and we are hated, the good women being mingled with the bad; [400] so unfortunate were we born.

Xuthus and his retinue enter.

Xuthus

First may the god rejoice when he has the first-fruits of my addresses, and then you, lady. You weren't afraid at my long absence, were you?

Creusa

No; you have come upon my anxiety. But [405] tell me, what oracle do you bring from Trophonius about the begetting of children?

Xuthus

He did not think it right to anticipate the answer of the god; but he said one thing, that neither you nor I would go home from the oracle childless.

Creusa

[410] O revered lady, mother of Phoebus, may we have come here auspiciously, and may our former engagements with your son fall out better!

Xuthus

It shall be so. But who is the interpreter of the god?

Ion

I am, outside; within, it belongs to others [415] seated near the tripod, stranger, the best men of Delphi, chosen by lot.

Xuthus

Good; I have everything I need. I will go inside; for, as I hear, the victim has been sacrificed for foreigners [420] in common before the shrine; I want, on this day--for it is propitious--to receive the answer of the god. But you, lady, take these laurel twigs around the altars and pray to the gods for me to bring from Apollo's temple oracles that give hope of children. Xuthus, after giving the laurel boughs to Creusa, enters the temple.

Creusa

[425] It shall be so, it shall. If Phoebus is even now willing to redress his earlier wrong, he would not be wholly dear to me, yet I will accept what he foretells for us, as he is a god. Creusa departs to the shrines in the outer precinct of the temple.

Ion

Why is the stranger always making abusive riddles, [430] in obscure words, against the god? Is it because she loves the one for whom she is consulting the oracle, or is she being silent about something that she must conceal? But what is the daughter of Erechtheus to me? It is not my concern. I will go [435] and pour water from golden pitchers into the sacred vessels. But I must give Apollo some advice; what is he about? Does he betray virgins by forced rape? Does he secretly breed children and leave them to die? Do not do so; but, since you have power, [440] seek after virtue. For if any mortal is bad, the gods punish him. How then is it just for you to write laws for mortals, and yourselves incur a charge of lawlessness? If--for it is not so, but I will handle the subject-- [445] you pay the penalty to mortals for rape, you and Poseidon, and Zeus, who rules heaven, you will empty your temples paying for your crimes. For you do wrong to go eagerly after your pleasures without thinking. No longer is it right [450] to speak badly of men, if we imitate what the gods think good, but rather of the ones who taught us these things. Ion goes out.

Chorus

You who were born without the pains of childbirth, my Athena, I beseech you, brought to birth by the [455] Titan Prometheus from the crown of Zeus's head, o blessed Victory, come to the Pythian home, from the golden chambers of Olympus [460] flying to the ways where Phoebus' hearth, in the middle of the earth, fulfils oracles at the tripod celebrated with dances; [465] you and the daughter of Leto, two goddesses, two virgins, the holy sisters of Apollo. Maidens, beseech that the ancient race of Erechtheus [470] may find clear oracles of long-delayed birth of children.

Chorus

For it is an immoveable security of overpowering happiness for mortals, [475] when the youthful strength of children, who will bear fruit in their turn, shines in the father's halls, and they will have inherited wealth from their fathers [480] in the form of other children. For it brings a cure in ills, pleasure in good fortune, a saving defense with the spear for one's native land. For me the careful nurture of dear children [485] would be beyond wealth and a king's palace. I hate the childless life, and I blame the one to whom it seems good; [490] may I have a life blessed with children and moderate wealth. Chorus

O seats of Pan and rocks that lie near the hollows of Makrai, [495] where the three daughters of Aglauros dance over the green courses before the temples of Pallas, to the quavering wail of pipes, of songs, [500] when you play the pipes in your sunless caves, O Pan, where an unhappy maiden bore a child to Phoebus and exposed it as a feast for birds [505] and a bloody banquet for wild beasts, the outrage of the bitter rape; neither at the loom nor in speeches have I heard that the children born to mortals from gods claim a report of good fortune.

Ion re-enters.

Ion

[510] Servant women, that keep your station around this incense-breathing temple's base, and watch for your mistress, has Xuthus already left the sacred tripod and oracle, or is he remaining in the shrine, to ask about his childlessness?

Chorus Leader

He is in the temple, stranger; he has not yet left this house. [515] But he is in the passageway, I hear the sound of the doors; and now I can see the master coming out.

Xuthus enters from the temple. He rushes to greet Ion.

Xuthus

My boy, welcome! That is a suitable way to begin speaking!

Ion

I am well; as long as you stay in your right mind, we are both doing well.

Xuthus

Let me kiss your hand, and throw my arms around your body!

Ion

[520] Are you in your right mind, stranger? Or has some damage from a god driven you mad?

Xuthus

I am sane; since I have found my dearest, I long for him not to escape.

Ion

Stop, do not break by your touch the garlands of the god.

Xuthus

I will touch; I am not seizing you as a pledge, but I have found my own.

Ion

Won't you stop, before you get an arrow in your side?

Xuthus

[525] Why do you try to escape from me? When you have met your own dearest--

Ion

I do not like to teach rude and maddened strangers.

Xuthus

Kill me and raise my funeral pyre; but if you kill me, you will be the murderer of your father.

Ion

How are you my father? Isn't this a joke on me?

Xuthus

No; the story as it goes on will make clear my words to you.

Ion

[530] And what will you tell me?

Xuthus

I am your father, and you are my child.

Ion

Who declares this?

Xuthus

Loxias, who nurtured you, although you were mine.

Ion

You are your own witness.

Xuthus

Informed by the oracle of the god.

Ion

You went astray when you heard a riddle.

Xuthus

Then I can't hear properly.

Ion

What were the words of Phoebus?

Xuthus

That the one who met me--

Ion

[535] What meeting?

Xuthus

As I came out of the temple--

Ion

What would be the result?

Xuthus

That he would be my son.

Ion

Born your son, or a gift from some other?

Xuthus

A gift, but born my son.

Ion

And did you first meet me?

Xuthus

No one else, my son.

Ion

However did this happen?

Xuthus

The two of us marvel at the one event.

Ion

[540] Ah! But who is my mother?

Xuthus

That I cannot say.

Ion

Phoebus did not tell you?

Xuthus

I was pleased at this and did not ask him that.

Ion

Then perhaps I was born from mother earth.

Xuthus

The earth bears no children.

Ion

Well, how could I be yours?

Xuthus

I do not know; I refer it to the god.

Ion

Let us touch on some other topic.

Xuthus

This one is better, my child.

Ion

[545] Have you gone to an unlawful bed?

Xuthus

Yes, in the folly of youth.

Ion

Was that before your marriage with the daughter of Erechtheus?

Xuthus

Yes, never afterwards.

Ion

So did you beget me then?

Xuthus

The time agrees.

Ion

Then how did I arrive here--

Xuthus

I cannot account for that.

Ion

Coming a long way?

Xuthus

That perplexes me also.

Ion

[550] Have you come to the Pythian rock before?

Xuthus

To the torch-processions of Bacchus.

Ion

You stayed with one of the public hosts?

Xuthus

He, with the girls of Delphi--

Ion

Brought you into their company, or what are you saying?

Xuthus

The maenads of Bacchus.

Ion

Were you sensible, or under the influence?

Xuthus

In the pleasures of Bacchus.

Ion

It was then that I was conceived.

Xuthus

Fate has discovered you, my son.

Ion

[555] How did I come to the temple, then?

Xuthus

Perhaps you were exposed by the girl.

Ion

I have escaped from slavery.

Xuthus

Now receive your father.

Ion

It is reasonable not to distrust the god, at any rate.

Xuthus

Now you are in your right mind.

Ion

And what else do I want--

Xuthus

Now you are seeing what you ought to see.

Ion

Than to be the son of Zeus' son?

Xuthus

Which is yours.

Ion

[560] Am I really touching the one who gave me birth?

Xuthus

If you trust in the god.

Ion

Welcome, father!

Xuthus

What a sweet word to hear!.

Ion

This present day--

Xuthus

Has made me happy.

Ion

0 my dear mother, when shall I see you also? Now I long to see you, whoever you are, more than before; [565] but perhaps you are dead, and it could never happen.

Chorus Leader

We feel the good fortune of the house in common with you; yet I wish that my mistress too, and the race of Erechtheus, were happy in children.

Xuthus

My son, the god has rightly brought about your discovery, [570] and joined you to me; and you in turn have found your closest relationship, which you had not known before. And what you are rightly eager for is also my desire, that you, my boy, may find your mother, and I may find the woman who bore you to me. [575] If we leave it to time, perhaps we may discover it. But abandon the god's precinct and your service of him, and come to Athens in agreement with your father, where his scepter awaits you, and abundant wealth; although you suffer from one of these two conditions, [580] you will not be called ill-born and poor, but well-born and rich. You are silent? Why do you cast your eyes down to the earth? You have gone into deep thought, and your change from joy frightens your father.

Ion

[585] Matters do not have the same appearance from far off as when seen close up. I welcome my fortune, finding my father in you. But hear, father, what I have in mind. It is said that the famous Athenians are natives of the land, [590] not a foreign race, so that I shall burst in on them with two ailments, my father a foreigner, and myself of bastard birth. And with this reproach, if I am insignificant, [I shall be called no one and nothing] [595] If I rush into the highest rank of the city, and seek to be someone, I will be hated by the powerless; those above them are troublesome to them. Those who are good and able to be wise keep silent, and are not eager for public affairs; [600] to them I will seem laughable and foolish if I am not at rest in a city full of fear. If I attain the reputation of those who are . . . and useful in the city, the more I will be guarded against, in the votes. It is likely to be this way, father; [605] those who hold cities and high rank are most hostile to their rivals.

And if I come to a strange house as a foreigner, to a childless woman, who shared that misfortune with you before and now has it as her own lot, [610] and will feel it bitterly, how will she not hate me, and with reason, whenever I stand beside you, but she, the childless one, looks bitterly on your darling? And then either you must forsake me, looking to your wife [615] or honor me and throw your house into confusion. How much slaughter and destruction by poisoning have women found out for men! Besides, I pity your wife, father, growing old without a child, for she is not worthy, [620] being of a noble line, to have this misery.

The outward face of royalty, falsely praised , is sweet, but there is bitterness in the home; for who is happy or fortunate, who draws out his life in fear and sidelong glances? [625] I would rather live as a fortunate citizen than as a king, for whom it is a pleasure to have wicked friends and hate the virtuous through fear of death. You might say that gold overcomes these things [630] and riches give delight? I do not like to hear the noise of the crowd, while I guard my wealth at hand, nor to have troubles; I would rather have moderation, free of care.

Listen to the blessings I have here, father; first, the dearest to mortals, leisure, and [635] moderate trouble; no worthless creature has struck me out of the way; this is not to be borne, to give way and yield to road to the base. In prayers to the gods or . . . of men, I would serve those who rejoiced, not those who lamented. [640] And some I would send away, while others would come as guests, so that I was always a pleasant novelty among the new arrivals. And--what men ought to wish for, even if they are unwilling--custom and my nature made me righteous before the god. With these things in mind, [645] I think it better here than there, father. Let me live here; for the pleasure is equal, to rejoice in greatness or to have delight with little.

Chorus Leader

You have spoken well, if those whom I love are fortunate in what you love.

Xuthus

[650] No more of these words; learn how to be successful. I wish to begin where I found you, my son, with a public table, providing a general feast, and to hold the sacrifices which I did not make at your birth. And now I will bring you as a guest at my table and cheer you with the banquet, [655] then lead you to Athens as a pretended visitor, not as my son. For I do not want to grieve my wife, who is childless, while I am fortunate. I will seize the right occasion and induce my wife [660] to let you hold the scepter of the land together with me. Ion I name you, as befits your fortune, since you were the first to meet me as I came out ot the god's shrine. But assemble a full number of your friends, greet them at the sacrifice with pleasure, [665] since you will soon leave the city of Delphi. And you, slaves, I tell you to be silent on these matters, or it will be death for those that tell my wife.

Ion

I will go. But one part of my fortune is lacking; if I do not find my mother, [670] my life will not be endurable, father. If it is right to pray for it, my mother would be an Athenian, so that from her I might have freedom to speak my mind. For one who bursts as a stranger into a city unmixed in race, even if he is called a citizen, [675] must keep a slavish mouth closed, and does not feel free to speak.

Xuthus and Ion go out.

Chorus

I see tears and mournful cries and attacks of groaning when my queen knows that her husband is blessed with a child, [680] while she is childless and deprived of children. What prophecy have you , oracular child of Leto? From where did this boy, nourished at your shrine, step forth? What woman is his mother? [685] The oracle does not please me; there may be treachery in it. I fear what is to come from this chance. [690] It is strange, and brings strange events to me, but the boy keeps the rest silent, treachery and fate . . . brought up from another's blood. Who will not agree to this?

[695] My friends, shall we cry out these things clearly to the ears of our mistress? Her husband, with whom she shared all her hopes, unhappy woman . . . Now her fortunes are ruined, while he is successful. [700] She has fallen into a gray old age, but her husband does not honor his friends. Wretched one, who came to her home an outsider, to great prosperity, and did not put her on a level with his fortunes--may he perish, perish!--deceiving my mistress. [705] And may he not succeed when he offers to the gods the brightly burning sacrifice on the fire; but he will know my mind, how friendly I am [710] to my queen. Now the new father and son are approaching the new dinner.

O ridge of Parnassus, [715] holding the high rock and seat of heaven, where Bacchus with flaming torches leaps lightly with the bacchantes that roam by night-- may the boy never come to my city, [720] may he leave his young life and die! For the mourning city would have for excuse a foreign invasion . . . the former king, lord Erechtheus, gathered his forces.

Creusa and her aged Tutor enter.

Creusa

[725] Old tutor of my father Erechtheus, while he was alive, come up to the oracular seat, so that you may rejoice with me, if lord Loxias has spoken any oracle on begetting of children. [730] For it is sweet to have good fortune in the presence of friends; if things should go badly--may they not--it is pleasant to look in the face of someone kind. Though I am your mistress, I tend you as a father, as once you tended my father.

Tutor

[735] My daughter, you keep customs worthy of your worthy ancesors, and you have not shamed your ancient line, the race native to your land. Draw me to the temple, draw me on and bring me. The oracular shrine is steep; [740] help my limbs, be a healer for my old age.

Creusa

Follow now; be careful where you set your steps.

Tutor

I am; my foot is slow, but my mind is quick.

Creusa

Support with a staff your steps that waver on the ground.

Tutor

That is blind also, whenever my sight is dim.

Creusa

[745] Well said; but do not give way to weariness.

Tutor

I am willing, but I have no power over my absent strength.

Creusa

Women, trusted servants of my loom and shuttle, what fortune did my husband take away concerning children, for which we came here? [750] If good, inform me; you will be doing a favor for masters that can be trusted.

Chorus Leader

O fortune!

Tutor

The prelude of your speech is not prosperous.

Chorus Leader

O unhappy!

Tutor

[755] But why do oracles given to my masters afflict me?

Chorus Leader

Well; what should we do? There is death in these matters.

Creusa

What is this eloquence? What are you afraid of?

Chorus Leader

Shall we speak or be silent? or what shall we do?

Creusa

Speak; you have some misfortune for me!

Chorus Leader

[760] It shall be spoken, even if I were to die twice. It is not for you, mistress, ever to hold a child in your arms or clasp it to your breast.

Creusa

Alas, I wish I were dead!

Tutor

My daughter!

Creusa

O unhappy in my fate, I have received, I have suffered an unbearable pain, my friends. [765] I am wholly ruined.

Tutor

My child!

Creusa

Alas! A piercing grief has struck me in my heart.

Tutor

Do not groan yet.

Creusa

But the mourning is already here.

Tutor

[770] Until we learn--

Creusa

What message for me?

Tutor

If the master has a share in this same fate, or you alone are unfortunate.

Chorus Leader

To him, old man, Loxias has given a son, [775] and he is fortunate by himself, apart from her.

Creusa

You have cried out this evil upon that, the height of grief for me to mourn.

Tutor

Will he have to breed the child you speak of from some other woman, or did the god declare one already born?

Chorus Leader

[780] Loxias gave him a youth already full grown; I was present.

Creusa

What are you saying? Your words are amazing to me, unspeakable!

Tutor

[785] And to me. How is this oracle to be fulfilled? Tell me most clearly who the boy is.

Chorus Leader

The god gave him as a son the one whom he should first encounter, when he rushed away from the god.

Creusa

Oh, oh! Has he then sung out [790] my childless, childless life? I shall live in a bereaved house, in loneliness.

Tutor

Who was proclaimed? Whom did the husband of this unhappy woman encounter? How and where did he see him?

Chorus Leader

Do you, my dear mistress, know the youth [795] that was sweeping this temple? That is the boy.

Creusa

If only I might fly up to the soft sky, far from the land of Hellas, the western stars, such pain have I suffered, my friends!

Tutor

[800] What name did his father give him? Do you know or does it remain unratified, in silence?

Chorus Leader

Ion, since he was the first to meet his father.

Tutor

And who was his mother?

Chorus Leader

I can not say. Her husband is gone--so that you may know everything from me, old man-- [805] to the holy tent to celebrate a feast and birth-rites for his son, in secret from her, and to give a public banquet to his new son.

Tutor

Lady, we are betrayed, for I am afflicted with you, by your husband, and by trickery [810] we are outraged and cast out of the house of Erechtheus. I do not say this in hatred to your husband, but I love you more than him; he married you when he came as a stranger to the city, receiving both the royal home and your full inheritance, [815] and now he is shown to have secretly bred children by some other woman; how secretly, I will tell you. When he saw you had no child, he could not endure to bear a fate like yours; but he bedded a slave in secret union [820] and begot this child, and gave him to some Delphian to bring up abroad. This man educated him, dedicated to the god, in this sacred house, so that he might conceal it. When Xuthus knew that the youth was grown, he persuaded you to come here, for the sake of your childlessness. [825] And the god has not deceived you; your husband deceived you long ago, rearing his son, and wove such plots; if convicted, he might ascribe it to the god . . . he was about to invest him with the rule of your land. [830] And he fashioned this new name at his leisure, Ion--because he met him coming out, indeed!

Chorus Leader

Alas, how I always hate wicked men, who put together plans of injustice and then adorn them with tricks. I would rather have as a friend a good man who is ordinary [835] than an evil man who is more clever.

Tutor

And you will be persuaded to the last evil of all: to take into your house as master someone motherless, insignificant, born from a slave woman. The evil would have been a single one, if he had persuaded you [840] by pleading your lack of children and settled in the house a son of a noble mother; or, if that displeased you, he should have sought a wife from the Aeolians. Now indeed you must act a woman's part: with a sword or by some trick or with poison [845] kill your husband and his son, before death comes to you from them. [For if you give up, your life is lost. For when two enemies come together under one roof, either one must fail, or the other.] [850] I wish to help you in this work, and kill the boy, entering the house where he is preparing the feast, and when I have paid back my living to my masters, either to die, or live and see the light. There is one thing in slavery that brings shame, [855] the name; in all other respects a good slave is no worse than the free-born.

Chorus Leader

And I, my dear mistress, wish to share your fate, either to die, or live with honor.

Creusa

O my soul, how shall I be silent? [860] But how shall I reveal the hidden bed, and depart from shame? What hindrance is still in my way?Against whom am I set in a contest of virtue? Is not my husband my betrayer, [865] and I am deprived of a house, deprived of children; the hopes are gone which I wished to arrange well but could not, when I was silent on this union, silent on the lamented birth. [870] But, by the starry throne of Zeus, and by the goddess high above my rocks, by the sacred headland of Triton's watery lake, I will no longer conceal this bed, so that [875] I may cast off this load from my breast and be at ease. Tears fall from my eyes, my soul is in pain, victim of plots by men, by gods, whom I will show to be [880] ungrateful betrayers of the beds they forced.

O you, who cause a voice to sing from your seven-stringed lyre, a voice that lets lovely-sounding hymns peal forth in the rustic lifeless horn, [885] son of Leto, I will blame you before this light. You came to me, your hair glittering with gold, when I was plucking into the folds of my robe yellow flowers [890] to bloom with golden light; grasping my white hand in yours, you led me to the bed in the cave, hearing me call on my mother, god and consort, [895] shamelessly paying homage to Aphrodite. I, the unhappy one, bore you a son, whom in fear of my mother I placed in that bed of yours, [900] where you joined with me, the miserable, the unfortunate one, in unhappy union. Alas! and now my son and yours, oh cruel one, is gone, torn apart, a feast for birds; [905] but you are singing to the lyre, chanting hymns.

Oh! son of Leto, I invoke you, who send forth your holy voice from your golden seat, [910] your central throne, I shall announce it in your ear: O wicked lover, you received no favor from my husband, [915] but you settle a child in the house for him; while my son and yours, unknown, is gone, plundered by birds, and has given up the baby-clothes from his mother. Delos hates you, and so do the laurel shoots [920] beside the palm with delicate leaves, where Leto gave birth to you, a holy birth, in the plants of Zeus.

Chorus Leader

Alas, what a mighty treasury of ills is opened; anyone might weep at it!

Tutor

[925] My daughter, I cannot get my fill of looking on your face; I am astonished. For I had just now drained one wave of troubles from my heart, when another one from the stern seizes me at your words, which you have diverted from the present woes, [930] and now you have set forth on a sad road of other sorrows. What are you saying? What charge do you bring against Loxias? What son do you say you have brought forth? and where in the city did you place his body, dear to the wild beasts? Please go through it again.

Creusa

I am ashamed, old man, yet I will speak.

Tutor

[935] I know how to mourn generously with friends.

Creusa

Hear then; you know the cave to the north of the Cecropian rocks, which we call Macrai?

Tutor

Yes, where there is a shrine to Pan and altars near by.

Creusa

There I engaged in a dreadful contest.

Tutor

[940] What contest? How my tears come to meet your words!

Creusa

Unwillingly, I formed an unhappy union with Phoebus.

Tutor

O daughter, was this what I have heard?

Creusa

I don't know; but I would tell you if you speak the truth.

Tutor

You were secretly mourning a hidden disease?

Creusa

[945] This was the grief I am now making clear to you.

Tutor

And then how did you conceal Apollo's rape?

Creusa

I gave birth . . . hear me with patience, old man.

Tutor

Where? Who assisted you at the birth? Or were you in labor alone?

Creusa

Alone, in the cave where I had been joined with him.

Tutor

[950] Where is the child? so that you may no longer be childless.

Creusa

He is dead, old man, exposed to wild beasts.

Tutor

Dead? And the cowardly Apollo did not defend him?

Creusa

He did not; the boy is growing up in the house of Hades.

Tutor

Who exposed him? Surely it wasn't you.

Creusa

[955] I did it, in darkness, wrapping him in robes.

Tutor

And no one shared in your knowledge of the child's exposure?

Creusa

Only the misfortune and the concealment.

Tutor

And how did you dare to leave your son in a cave?

Creusa

How? With many mournful words.

Tutor

[960] Ah! Cruel was your daring, but the god was more cruel than you.

Creusa

If you had seen the child stretch out his hands to me!

Tutor

Seeking the breast, or reaching for your arms?

Creusa

Here, where he suffered wrong from me, being absent from my arms.

Tutor

And what thought induced you to expose your child?

Creusa

[965] That the god would save his own offspring.

Tutor

Alas, how storms have buffeted the prosperity of your house!

Creusa

Why do you cover your head and weep, old man?

Tutor

I see you and your father unfortunate.

Creusa

This is the state of man; nothing stands firm.

Tutor

[970] Let us no longer cling to sorrow, my daughter.

Creusa

What should I do? There is no way out of misfortune.

Tutor

First be avenged on the god that wronged you.

Creusa

And how, being mortal, shall I outrun those who are stronger?

Tutor

Burn the holy oracle of Loxias.

Creusa

[975] I am afraid; I have enough ills even now.

Tutor

Dare what may be done then; kill your husband.

Creusa

I revere our marriage, to which he was faithful once.

Tutor

Then kill the son who has appeared against you.

Creusa

How? If only it could be; how I would wish it!

Tutor

[980] Arm your servants with swords.

Creusa

I will go; but where shall it be done?

Tutor

In the holy tent, where he is now feasting his friends.

Creusa

The murder is evident, and slaves are powerless.

Tutor

Ah, you are being cowardly; come, you form a plan now.

Creusa

[985] Indeed, I have one, treacherous and effective.

Tutor

I would be your servant in both these respects.

Creusa

Listen, then; you know the battle of the giants?

Tutor

Yes, the battle the giants fought against the gods in Phlegra.

Creusa

There the earth brought forth the Gorgon, a dreadful monster.

Tutor

[990] As an ally for her children and trouble for the gods?

Creusa

Yes; and Pallas, the daughter of Zeus, killed it.

Tutor

[What fierce shape did it have?

Creusa

A breastplate armed with coils of a viper.]

Tutor

Is this the story which I have heard before?

Creusa

[995] That Athena wore the hide on her breast.

Tutor

And they call it the aegis, Pallas' armor?

Creusa

It has this name from when she darted to the gods' battle.

Tutor

But what harm is this to your enemies, daughter?

Creusa

Do you know Erichthonius? But of course you do, old man.

Tutor

[1000] The one whom the earth brought forth, first of your race?

Creusa

To him while an infant Pallas gave--

Tutor

What did she give? Your speech has such delays!

Creusa

Two drops of blood from the Gorgon.

Tutor

And what power do they have over mortals?

Creusa

[1005] One is deadly, the other heals disease.

Tutor

In what did she hang them around the infant's body?

Creusa

In gold chains; and he gave them to my father.

Tutor

And when he died, they came to you?

Creusa

Yes; I wear them on my wrist.

Tutor

[1010] How is this double gift of the goddess accomplished?

Creusa

This one, which dripped from the hollow vein, at the slaughter--

Tutor

What is its use? What can it do?

Creusa

It wards off diseases and nourishes life.

Tutor

The second one you speak of, what does it do?

Creusa

[1015] It kills, as it is poison from the Gorgon serpents.

Tutor

Do you wear them mixed together, or separately?

Creusa

Separate; for good does not mix with ill.

Tutor

O dearest child, you have all that you need.

Creusa

With this the boy shall die, and you will be the one to kill him.

Tutor

[1020] Where and how? It is for you to say it and for me to dare it.

Creusa

At Athens, when he comes to my home.

Tutor

That was not well said; I say this, for you have found fault with me.

Creusa

How? Do you suspect what has come to me also?

Tutor

You will appear to destroy the child, even if you don't kill him.

Creusa

[1025] Rightly; a stepmother is said to hate her stepchildren.

Tutor

Kill him here, so that you can deny the murder.

Creusa

And so I get the pleasure sooner in time.

Tutor

And you will conceal from your husband what he is eager to conceal from you.

Creusa

Do you know what you must do? Take from my hand [1030] this golden bracelet from Athena, an ancient work, and go where my husband is secretly preparing the sacrifice; when they finish dinner and are about to pour libations to the gods, with this in your robe, put it in the youth's cup. . . [1035] but keep the cup apart, for him alone, not everyone--the one who is going to be the master of my house! And when it has gone down his throat, he will never see glorious Athens, but he will die and remain here. She gives him the bracelet.

Tutor

You go now to your hosts; [1040] I will accomplish what I have been ordered to do. Come then, my aged foot, be young in action, even if you cannot be in years. Go with your master against the enemy, and help me kill him and remove him from the house. [1045] It is good for the fortunate to honor piety; but whenever someone wants to do harm to enemies, no law stands in the way. They both go out.

Chorus

Daughter of Demeter, goddess of the cross-ways, you who rule over assaults by night [1050] and day, guide this cup full of death against the one my queen sends it to--from the [1055] drops of the earth-born Gorgon, her throat cut, to the one who is grasping at the house of Erechtheus. May no other rule the city's households [1060] than one of the noble race of Erechtheus!

But if death and the eager attempts of my mistress go unfulfilled, and occasion for daring, where there is now hope, is absent, a god will thrust a sharp sword or [1065] hang a noose around her neck; by sorrow making an end to sorrow, she will go to other forms of life. For never while she is alive would she endure [1070] strangers ruling her home, in the bright rays, she who is born from a noble house.

Chorus

I am ashamed before the god of many hymns, [1075] if he, the sleepless night watcher, shall see the torch procession on the twentieth day, beside the springs with lovely dances, when the starry sky of Zeus also joins in the dance, [1080] and the moon dances, and the fifty daughters of Nereus, in the sea and the swirls of ever-flowing rivers, celebrating in their dance [1085] the maiden with golden crown and her revered mother; where this vagabond of Phoebus' hopes to rule, entering upon the labor of others.

[1090] You who turn to music and sing in discordant hymns our beds and the lawless, unholy loves of Kypris, see how we surpass in piety [1195] the unjust seed of men. Let the song recant and let discordant music go against the beds of men! The descendant of Zeus [1100] shows his ingratitude, when he does not breed children for the house in common with my mistress; showing favor to another Aphrodite, [1105] he has found a bastard child.

An Attendant of Creusa enters.

Attendant

Women of Athens, where may I find our mistress, the daughter of Erechtheus? I have completed a search of the whole city for her, and I cannot find her.

Chorus Leader

What is it, my fellow-slave? Why your [1110] swiftness of foot? What tidings do you bring?

Attendant

We are being hunted; the rulers of the land seek her, so that she may die by stoning.

Chorus Leader

Alas! what are you saying? We have surely not failed to keep secret our plans of murder against the boy?

Attendant

[1115] You are right. You will not be among the last to share the punishment.

Chorus Leader

How were the hidden contrivances seen?

Attendant

The god, who did not wish to be stained with blood-pollution, exposed that which was wrong and weaker than the right.

Chorus Leader

How? As a suppliant, I beg you, tell me about this. [1120] For when we know, we would die more pleasantly, whether we die or live.

Attendant

When Creusa's husband left the god's oracular shrine, he took his new son to the feast and the sacrifice he was preparing for the god. [1125] Xuthus then went where the flame of Bacchus leaps, so that he might drench both rocks of Dionysos with the slaughter, as a thank-offering for the sight of his son, and he said: "You, my child, stay here and raise a tent, fitted on both sides, by the toil of carpenters. [1130] If I should remain a long time in my sacrifice to the gods of birth, set up the banquet for the friends who are there."

He took the calves and left. The youth reverently built the round tent on pillars, without walls, taking good care of the rays of the sun, [1135] setting it neither towards the middle beams of heat nor in turn towards the ending ones. He measured a length of 100 feet for a square, having its whole area ten thousand feet, as the wise say, [1140] so that he might call all the people of Delphi to the feast. From the treasuries he took sacred tapestries, and shadowed over the tent, a wonder for men to see. First, overhead he spread out wings of cloth, a dedication of the son of Zeus, which Herakles [1145] brought from the Amazons as spoils for the god. These pictures were woven in it: Heaven gathering the stars into the circle of the sky. The Sun was driving his horses to the last flare, drawing on the light of Evening. [1150] Dark-robed Night was shaking her two-horse chariot by means of the yoked pair, and stars attended her. A Pleiad hastened through the middle sky, with Orion and his sword; above, Arktos turned his golden tail on the pole; [1155] the full moon, that divides the months in half, shot forth her beams above, with the Hyades, the clearest sign for sailors, and light-bearing Dawn, pursuing the stars. Ion spread other tapestries over the sides of the tent, foreign ones: [1160] well-equipped ships against the Hellenes, and half-human creatures; and the pursuit of deer on horse-back, and hunting of savage lions. At the entrance there was Cecrops, with his daughters, winding in his serpent coils, [1165] a dedication from an Athenian.

Ion set up golden mixing bowls in the middle of the banquet. The herald, with quick steps, was inviting any native of Delphi who wished to come to the feast. When the tent was filled, they crowned themselves with garlands and ate the rich food [1170] to satiety. When they had let go this pleasure--an old man came by and stood in the midst, and he raised a great laugh among the guests by his zealous actions; for he brought water for washing hands from the pitchers, and burned [1175] the myrtle incense, and ruled over the the golden cups, assigning this duty to himself.

Attendant

When it was time for music and the public bowl, the old man said: "we must take away the small wine vessels and bring in the big ones, [1180] so that they may come to their pleasures more quickly" Then there was the work of bringing gold and silver cups; he took up a chosen one, as if to do a favor for the new master, and gave him the full cup--he had put in the wine [1185] a deadly poison which they say his mistress had given him, to kill the new son; and no one knew this. When Xuthus' revealed son was holding a libation among the rest, one of the slaves said a profane word; [1190] he, as one brought up within the temple and with expert seers, thought it an omen and required another goblet to be filled afresh. The former libations to the god he cast upon the ground, instructing everyone to pour them out. Silence came over us. We were filling [1195] the sacred bowls with water and wine of Byblos. While we were at work, a fluttering troop of doves burst into the tent--for they live in Phoebus' house without fear--and where they had poured out the wine, the birds let down their beaks to it, yearning for the drink, [1200] and they drew it into their beautifully-feathered throats.

Attendant

The god's drink-offering was harmless to the other doves; but the one who sat where the new son had poured out his libation and tasted the drink at once shook her body, with its lovely plumes, and whirled around, and cried out with [1205] an untelligible sound. The whole crowd of guests was amazed at the bird's torment. She struggled and died, stretching out her scarlet legs. The son given by the prophet held his arms, bare from his robe, over the table, [1210] and shouted: "Who intended to kill me? Let us know, old man; for you were being zealous and I received the cup from your hand." At once he seized his aged arm, and examined him, so that he might catch the old man in the act with the poison. [1215] He was seen to have it, and, when tortured, he painfully reported Creusa's daring and the contrivance of the cup. At once, the youth declared by Loxias' oracle collected the guests and rushed outside, and standing in the midst of the Pythian leaders, said: [1220] "O holy Earth, the stranger, daughter of Erechtheus, tried to kill me with poison" Then the Delphian lords--and not by one vote only!-- decided that my mistress should die, by being cast from the rock, as she would have killed one dedicated to the god, and done murder [1225] in the temple. The whole city is searching for her, as she hastens on her unhappy way. She came to Phoebus in desire for children, and has lost her life and her sons at once.

Chorus

There is no means of averting death, [1230] there is none for me, the unhappy one. This is now clear, from the libation to Dionysos, the swift viper mingled in death with the drops of the vine. . . [1235] the offering to the gods below is clear: misfortune for my life, a death by stoning for my mistress. By what winged flight or under the dark caverns of the earth shall I go, [1240] fleeing a death by stoning, stepping on to the swift chariot? or on to the prow of a ship?

Chorus Leader

It is not possible to hide, [1245] when a god is not willing to snatch us away. What remains, my unhappy mistress, for you to feel in your life? Shall we, who planned to do wrong to another, ourselves be punished, as is right?

Creusa Creusa rushes in.

[1250] My servants, I am pursued to the death; the Pythian council has decreed it; I am given up.

Chorus Leader

Unhappy lady, we know your misfortunes, how your fate stands.

Creusa

Where then shall I fly? I scarcely escaped death when I left the house; I have come here by stealthy flight from my enemies.

Chorus Leader

[1255] Where else but to the altar?

Creusa

What will that gain me?

Chorus Leader

It is not right to kill a suppliant.

Creusa

But by the law I perish.

Chorus Leader

If you are caught.

Creusa

And here are my bitter opponents, pressing on with drawn swords.

Chorus Leader

Now take your seat at the altar; if you die here, your blood will cry out [1260] for vengeance on your murderers; but your fate must be endured. Creusa takes refuge at the altar as Ion, guards, and Delphians enter.

Ion

O Cephisus, her ancestor, with a bull's face, what a viper have you bred, or serpent that glares a deadly flame! She has dared all, she is no less than [1265] the Gorgon's blood, with which she was about to kill me. Seize her, so that the uplands of Parnassus, from which she will be hurled to make her stony leaps, may comb out those smooth tresses of her hair. I met with a good genius, before I came [1270] to the city of Athens, and fell into a stepmother's hands. For in the midst of allies I have taken the measure of your intent, what an unfriendly bane you were to me; if you had encompassed me in your own house, you would have sent me utterly to the house of Hades. [1275] But neither the altar nor Apollo's shrine will save you. Pity for you is greater for me and for my mother; although she is absent, yet the name is present. Look at that wicked creature, how she wove [1280] craft out of craft; she has fled cowering to the altar of the god, as if she thought she would not pay the penalty for her deeds.

Creusa

I forbid you to kill me, on behalf of myself and the god, at whose altar I stand.

Ion

What is there in common between Phoebus and you?

Creusa

[1285] I give my body to the god, a holy suppliant.

Ion

And then you tried to poison the god's servant?

Creusa

You were no longer Apollo's, but your father's.

Ion

I was born from my father; but I am speaking of the essential relationship.

Creusa

Well, then, you were Apollo's once; I am now, you no longer are.

Ion

[1290] You are not pious, but my actions were.

Creusa

I tried to kill you because you were an enemy to my house.

Ion

I certainly did not come in arms against your country.

Creusa

Yes, you did; you would have burned the house of Erechtheus.

Ion

With what torches, by what flame?

Creusa

[1295] You were going to live in my house, taking it from me by force.

Ion

My father is giving me the land which he possessed.

Creusa

How does the race of Aeolus share with that of Pallas?

Ion

He received it in pledge, by arms, not words.

Creusa

An ally would not be an inhabitant of the land.

Ion

[1300] Then you tried to kill me, in fear of what I might intend to do?

Creusa

So that I might not die, if you should not only intend.

Ion

Because you are childless, you are envious that my father found me.

Creusa

Then you will plunder a childless house?

Ion

But do I have no share of my father's goods?

Creusa

[1305] As much as his shield and spear; that is your entire property.

Ion

Leave the altar and the seats dedicated to the god.

Creusa

Give advice to your mother, wherever she is.

Ion

Will you not submit to punishment, you who were going to kill me?

Creusa

Yes, if you are willing to slaughter me in this shrine.

Ion

[1310] What pleasure is it for you to die among the garlands of the god?

Creusa

I shall give pain to one who has given me pain.

Ion

Ah! It is strange that the god has given to men these laws, not well or with wise thought; the wicked should not sit at the altar, [1315] but should be driven from there; nor is it good for a worthless hand to touch the gods; for the righteous--those who have been wronged should sit in sanctuary; the good and bad should not go to the same place and have equal treatment from the gods.

As Ion and his followers are about to tear Creusa from the altar, the Priestess of Apollo enters from the temple.

Priestess

[1320] Hold back, my child; for I have left the oracular tripod and crossed the threshold, I the priestess of Phoebus, who keep the ancient law of the tripod, chosen from all the women of Delphi.

Ion

Welcome, you who are a dear mother to me, though not my parent.

Priestess

[1325] Then may I be called so; the name is not bitter to me.

Ion

Have you heard that this woman was trying to kill me with her plots?

Priestess

I have; but you are going astray in your cruelty.

Ion

Shouldn't I requite those who would kill me?

Priestess

Wives are always hostile to former offspring.

Ion

[1330] But we suffer greatly from stepmothers.

Priestess

Do not do these things; leaving the shrine and going to your country--

Ion

What must I be advised to do?

Priestess

Go pure to Athens, with good omens.

Ion

All those that kill their enemies are pure.

Priestess

[1335] Do not do it! Hear what I have to say.

Ion

Speak; whatever you say will be full of good will.

Priestess

Do you see this vessel in my arms?

Ion

I see an ancient cradle, in garlands.

Priestess

In this I received you when you were a new-born infant.

Ion

[1340] What are you saying? A new story is introduced.

Priestess

I kept it in silence; now I reveal it.

Ion

How did you hide it, when you received me long ago?

Priestess

The god wanted to have you as a servant in his house.

Ion

But now he doesn't want it? How must I know this?

Priestess

[1345] He has declared your father, and sends you from this land.

Ion

You kept these things because you were bidden to, or how?

Priestess

Loxias put it into my mind--

Ion

To do what? Speak, finish what you have to say.

Priestess

To keep to this time what I found.

Ion

[1350] What gain does this have for me, or what harm?

Priestess

The baby-clothes in which you were wrapped are hidden here.

Ion

You are producing a means to find my mother?

Priestess

Since the god wishes it; before, he did not.

Ion

O day of blessed discoveries!

Priestess

[1355] Now take them and find your mother.

Ion

I will go over all Asia and the boundaries of Europe.

Priestess

You yourself will know these things. For the sake of the god, I nurtured you, my son, and I will give you these, which he wished me, unbidden, to keep [1360] and save; why he wanted this, I do not understand. No mortal knew that I had these things, or where they were hidden. And now farewell; I take leave of you just as a mother does. Begin where you ought to seek your mother; [1365] first, if some Delphian girl gave you birth, and exposed you in this shrine; then, if she was someone of Hellas. You have everything from me, and from Phoebus, who took part in your fate. She goes into the temple after giving Ion the cradle.

Ion

Ah me! How the tears fall from my eyes, [1370] when I think on that time when my mother, after a hidden union, sold me secretly and did not allow me the breast; but in the temple of the god, without a name, I had a slave's life. All from the god is good, but from fortune [1375] harsh; for in the time when I should have luxuriated in a mother's arms and had some pleasure in life, I was deprived of a mother's tender care. And she also is unhappy; how she has suffered, losing the delight of a child. [1380] But I will take this vessel, and dedicate it to the god, so that I may find nothing that I do not want. For if my mother happens to be a slave, to find her would be worse than to let it be in silence. O Phoebus, in your temple I dedicate this. [1385] But what am I doing? Am I making war against the will of the god, who saved for me these tokens of my mother? I must dare, and open these; for I would not transgress what is fated.

He opens the cradle.

O sacred garlands, what have you so long concealed, [1390] and bands, that keep these things so dear to me? See how, from some god's device, the cover of this circular vessel is not worn, and mold is absent from the weave. But much intervening time has passed for these treasures.

Creusa

[1395] What unexpected sight do I see?

Ion

You be silent; you know that you have said enough to me before--

Creusa

I cannot be silent; do not give me advice. For I see the cradle, in which I once exposed you, my son, when you were still an infant, [1400] in the caves of Cecrops and the overhanging rocks of Macrai. I will leave this altar, even if I must die.

Ion

Seize her; for she has been driven mad by the god and has left the wooden images of the altar; bind her hands.

Creusa

Do not hesitate to kill me; I shall lay claim to this vase, [1405] and you, and your concealed tokens.

Ion

Isn't this terrible? I am being seized by your talk.

Creusa

No, but you have been found to be dear to your own.

Ion

I am dear to you? And you were trying to kill me secretly?

Creusa

You are my child, if that is most dear to parents.

Ion

[1410] Stop weaving your plots; I will certainly catch you out.

Creusa

May I come to what I am aiming at, my child!

Ion

Is this vessel empty, or does it cover something?

Creusa

Yes, your clothes, in which I then exposed you.

Ion

And will you name them to me, before you see them?

Creusa

[1415] If I do not say them, I consent to die.

Ion

Speak; your daring has something strange in it.

Creusa

Look; cloth that I wove as a child.

Ion

What sort? Girls weave many things.

Creusa

Not completed, like a practice-work from the loom.

Ion

[1420] What appearance does it have? You will not catch me in this way.

Creusa

A Gorgon in the middle threads of the robe.

Ion

O Zeus, what fate hunts me down!

Creusa

And, like an aegis, bordered with serpents.

Ion

Look! That is the robe, as we are finding out the oracle.

Creusa

[1425] O long-lost work of my loom when I was a girl!

Ion

Is there anything else besides, or are you lucky in this only?

Creusa

Serpents; an old gift of Athena, in gold; she tells us to rear children, in imitation of Erichthonius of long ago.

Ion

[1430] Tells you to do what with the gold, how to use it? Explain it to me.

Creusa

Necklaces for the new-born baby to wear, my child.

Ion

They are here; I long to know the third thing.

Creusa

I put an olive crown around you, from the tree that Athena first brought out of the rock; [1435] if it is there, it has not lost its green, but flourishes, born from an immortal olive tree.

In the following scene, most of Ion's lines are spoken, most of Creusa's are sung.

Ion

O my dearest mother! I see you with joy, I am held to your joyful face. They embrace.

Creusa

O child, o light dearer to your mother than the sun [1440] --the god will forgive me--I hold you in my arms, unexpectedly found, when I thought you lived in the world below, with the dead and Persephone.

Ion

But, my dear mother, in your arms I seem to be both one who has died and one who is not dead.

Creusa

[1445] Oh, oh, wide expanse of the bright sky, what shall I say, what shall I cry aloud? From where did this unexpected pleasure come to me? Where have I found this joy?

Ion

[1450] There was nothing further from my thoughts than this, mother, to be found your son.

Creusa

I am still trembling with fear.

Ion

Thinking that you do not have me, although you are holding me?

Creusa

Yes, for I had cast these hopes far away. O lady, from whom did you take my child into your arms? [1455] What hand brought him to Apollo's shrine?

Ion

It was a god's action; but may the rest of our fortune be happy, as the past was unfortunate.

Creusa

My child, you were brought forth in tears; with laments you were separated from a mother's hands. [1460] But now I breathe beside your cheeks, with most blessed delight.

Ion

You are speaking for me, when you speak your thoughts.

Creusa

I am no longer childless; the house is established, the land has a king; [1465] Erechtheus has come back; and the house of the earth-born no longer gazes upon night, but looks up into the rays of the sun. Ion

Mother, let my father, since he is present here, also share the joy which I have given you.

Creusa

[1470] O child, what are you saying? How I am convicted!

Ion

What have you said?

Creusa

You were born from another.

Ion

Ah me! You gave birth to me as a virgin's bastard?

Creusa

[1475] My wedding rites had no torches or dances, child, when I bore you.

Ion

Alas! I am low-born. Mother, who was my father?

Creusa

May the Gorgon's slayer know--

Ion

Why have you said this?

Creusa

You, who sit on the hill [1480] where the olive grows, beside my cliffs--

Ion

What you say is treacherous and not clear to me.

Creusa

By the nightingale's rock, Apollo--

Ion

Why do you speak of Apollo?

Creusa

Led me in secret to his bed.

Ion

[1485] Speak on; your words bring some joyful fortune to me.

Creusa

In the tenth month I bore you to Phoebus, with secret pangs.

Ion

What you are saying is very sweet, if you are speaking the truth.

Creusa

[1490] I fitted around you these baby-clothes, the work of my flying shuttle, done when I was a girl, in secret from my mother. I did not offer you milk, nor a mother's nourishment from the breast, nor did I wash you; you were cast out on the deserted cave, [1495] a victim of the beaks of birds, and a feast for Hades.

Ion

Mother, you dared to do terrible things.

Creusa

Bound down by fear, my son, I cast your life away; [1500] unwillingly I killed you.

Ion

And I was about to kill you!

Creusa

Ah! dreadful was my fortune then, dreadful these things also; I am whirled here [1505] and there to misery, and back again to joy; but the wind is changing. Let it remain; the past evils are enough; now let there be a favoring breeze, after troubles, my son. Chorus Leader

[1510] From what has happened now, let no mortal ever consider anything unexpected.

Ion

O Fortune, you that have already changed the lives of countless mortals, involving them in ills, and raising them to happiness again, to what a point of life had I come, [1515] ready to kill my mother and suffer unworthily. Ah! Is it possible to learn all this day by day, in the sun's bright encircling rays? I have made a dear find in you, mother; nor do I see anything to blame in my birth; [1520] For the rest, I want to talk to you alone. Come here; for I wish to say this in your ear and draw a dark veil over the matter. Look, mother; isn't it true that you went astray into a secret affair--an affliction that happens to girls; [1525] and now you are ascribe the blame to the god and attempt to escape the shame of my birth by saying that you bore me to Phoebus, when your lover was not a god?

Creusa

By Athena Nike, who once raised her shield against the giants, in her chariot beside Zeus, [1530] your father is not a mortal, but the one who who brought you up, lord Loxias.

Ion

How then did he give his child to another father and say that I was born the son of Xuthus?

Creusa

Not born, but he gives you, [1535] born from himself; for so a friend might give to a friend his son to be master of the house.

Ion

The god is true, or prophecy is in vain--this troubles my heart, mother, and with reason.

Creusa

Hear now what has come to me, my child: [1540] Apollo establishes you in a noble house as a kindness to you. but if you were said to be his, you could not ever have a wealthy home or a father's name; how could it be, since I myself concealed the union and tried to kill you secretly? [1545] But he gives you to another father, to benefit you.

Ion

My search is not so careless; I will go into Phoebus' house and ask him if I have a mortal father or Loxias.

Athena appears from above.

Ah! what god is revealing a countenance as bright as the sun, [1550] above the house that breathes incense? Let us try to escape, mother, before we see divinities--if it is not the proper time for us to see them.

Athena

Do not try to escape; for you are fleeing one who is not an enemy, but gracious to you both in Athens and here. [1555] I, Pallas, have come from your land, which is named after me, urged on my course by Apollo, for he does not think it fitting to come into your sight, lest blame for what happened before should arise. But he sends me to tell you this: [1560] that she bore you, to Apollo, your father, and he makes a gift of you, not to the one who begot you, but so that he may establish you in a most noble house. When this matter was made known and revealed, since he feared that you would die by the plots of your mother [1565] and she at your hands, he rescued you by his contrivances. Lord Apollo, keeping silent over these things, was going to make them known at Athens, that she is your mother, and you are born from her and your father, Phoebus. But, to bring the matter to an end, hear the oracles of the god, [1570] for which I yoked my chariot.

Creusa, take your son and go to the land of Cecrops; set him on the royal throne. For he was born from Erechtheus and is fit to rule my land; [1575] and he will be famous throughout Hellas. He will have four sons, from one stock, and they will gave names to the land and the tribes of people who inhabit it. Geleon will be the first; then second . . . [1580] Hopletes and Argades, and the Aegicores will have a tribal name from my aegis. Their sons in turn, at the appointed time, will settle in the island cities of the Cyclades, and the lands along the shore, which will give strength to my land; [1585] they will colonize the plains of the two mainlands, Asia and Europe, on opposite sides; they will become famous under the name of Ionians, in homage to this boy's name. You and Xuthus will have children together: [1590] Dorus, from whom the Dorian state will be celebrated throughout the land of Pelops. The second son, Achaeus, will be king of the shore land near Rhion; and a people called after him will be marked out as having his name. [1595] Apollo has done all things well: first, he had you give birth without pain, so that your family would not know about it; when you bore this child and put him in his clothes, he ordered Hermes to take up the baby in his arms and bring him here; [1660] he nurtured him, and did not allow him to die. Now do not reveal that he is your son, so that Xuthus may have his belief in content and you too may go forth with your blessings, lady. And now farewell; from this relief from ills [1605] I announce a prosperous fortune for you.

Ion

O Pallas, daughter of all-powerful Zeus! not with distrust shall we receive your words; I am convinced that Phoebus is my father and she is my mother.--and that I did not doubt before.

Creusa

Hear now my words also; I praise Phoebus, whom I did not praise before; [1610] because he gives back to me the child that he once neglected. These gates are lovely to my eyes, and the oracles of the god, which were hostile before. But now I gladly cling to the handle of the door and address the gates.

Athena

I am glad that you have changed your mind and praise the god; for always [1615] the gifts of Heaven are somehow slow, but at the end they are not weak.

Creusa

My son, let us go home.

Athena

Go; I will escort you.

Creusa

A worthy guide for us.

Athena

And friendly to the city.

Creusa

Sit on the ancient throne.

Ion

A worthy possession for me. Ion, Creusa and Athena leave the stage.

Chorus

O son of Leto and Zeus, Apollo, hail! The one whose house is striken [1620] by misfortune must have courage and honor the gods; for, at the end, the good obtain what they have deserved, but the bad by nature can never fare well.


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