Ion 1, after whom Ionia was called, was exposed as a child, and saved by a
god who took him to Delphi, where, reared in
a temple, he grew up as a peaceful worshipper. Yet,
after several vicissitudes of fortune, he turned
into a warlord and died in the battlefield.
Birth and exposure of Ion 1
Apollo, they say, made love to Creusa 1, daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens, beneath the Mount of Pallas in Attica; and in due time she gave birth to a child, whom she exposed in the same cave wherein she had met her divine lover. There she left the child to die, lying in an ark with broidery from her robe attached to him as small serpents, in remembrance of those which once had warded little Erichthonius 2, her great-grandfather. But Apollo asked Hermes to save the child
and bring it to his temple at Delphi, where a priestess
found him and nursed him, not knowing that his
father was the same god that there had his seat. This is how Ion 1 came to Delphi, and having grown
up inside and among the sacred buildings, he was
made steward and treasurer of the god, of which he
was proud, since he could say:
"Nor mother is
mine, neither father: his temple has nurtured me,
and I serve his shrine." (Euripides, Ion 110ff).
And while he went about, making the
temple-portals bright with boughs of bay, he would
chant praises to Apollo,
calling the god his begetter and his defender, and
praising him in all possible ways.
Xuthus 1, ally of Athens
In the meantime, war broke up between Athens and the Euboeans from Chalcidice. It was then that Xuthus 1, a Thessalian banished by his brothers Aeolus 1 and Dorus 1, appeared in Attica with an army, and defeated the enemies of Athens. And for this invaluable service, he was given Creusa 1's hand, becoming influential in his new home. But the man who had been blessed by victory in
the battlefield, and who although a foreigner,
would later appoint the king of Athens himself, could not boast of a similar fortune within the walls of his own household, since he and his wife were still childless after years of wedlock. So in order to find a remedy to this annoying deficiency, Xuthus 1 and Creusa 1 traveled to Delphi, hoping for Apollo's good counsel to
come out of the mouths of those priests and
priestesses who tended the god's shrine at the very
navel of the earth. This remedy they wanted badly. For Xuthus 1 and Creusa 1, as others in similar circumstances, regarded offspring as a most fair boon, preventing their line to perish. And they are many, who find in their children the motivation for all their actions, feeling for example, that there is little purpose in producing and accumulating wealth if it cannot be passed on to their descent. On that account, and for many other reasons, children are set above all other things, including a golden treasure, since they are believed to brighten life itself. Keeping this fact of life in mind, it is curious then to learn that Creusa 1 met Ion 1 in Delphi when he was
sweeping the temple's floor, and that the mother
was just a visitor, and the son just a steward,
neither of them knowing who they were.
Wonders of Delphi
While Creusa 1 then talked with the steward, and Xuthus 1 consulted the god, their handmaids went around the sanctuary wondering at everything they saw, saying both "Oh!", and "Ah!" when seeing depicted in the marble walls, the gods, heroes, giants, and monsters they had heard about. And quite a few visitors of the 21st century react likewise, that is, also saying "Oh!" and "Ah!", and even "Wow!" when watching the same monuments that the handmaids of Xuthus 1 admired; but not generally those who come to Delphi forced by some
institution that wishes to enlighten them; for they
wander beneath the crests of Parnassus like the
shadows of Hades in
their gloomy abode. And there is no one to cheer
their expectation up by saying, for example:
"Unto Castaly's silvery-swirling spring, pass ye, and cleanse with the pure spray-rain your bodies …" (Euripides, Ion 95).
… since the waters of Castalia are disposed of, as if they were a nuisance, by the efficiency of AD 2001, and expeditiously discharged into an outlet beside dead stones. For most men of the 21st century cherish those stones more than water itself, and more than whatever might be behind or beyond them both, and also more than the ancient ever cherished the living soul of the gods. And this is one reason why some look like the aforementioned shadows, since the mere worship of old stones can accomplish nothing, and resembles a punishment.
Xuthus 1 is given a son
On the other hand, Xuthus 1 himself had every reason to love Delphi, and the oracle, since the latter declared that he, Xuthus 1, was already father of a son, and that he would recognize him in the first man he would meet on coming out from Apollo's holy place. And the man Xuthus 1 met was Ion 1, to whom he immediately said: "My
true-begotten son is this." And when Ion 1 questioned him: "Born thy
son, or given of others?", Xuthus 1 replied with the same kind of clarity that oracles sometimes show: "Givenand born from me he
is." (Euripides, Ion 536). But Ion 1 wished to reject this sudden adoption, foreseeing that Athens, not exactly a great lover of foreigners, would regard him as a Nobody and as a Nobody's son besides, since Xuthus 1 himself was a Thessalian. He also believed that, if he sought a name in that xenophobic city, he would win great hatred among the ambitious, while becoming laughing-stock among those who, although influential, kept a low profile. Besides, he reasoned, he would be coming as an alien to the house of a childless lady, who until then had shared her sorrow with her husband, but who was now forced to bear her bitterness alone. And Xuthus 1 himself, Ion 1 continued, would have to choose everyday between casting his adoptive son off and cleave to his wife, or else honour his new son and wreck his household's peace. Ion 1 also rejected political influence, which he considered inferior to the happiness which comes from an obscure life. For a ruler must feel joy in being supported by vile friends, and must hate what is good, if the State so requires. And he rejected wealth, saying that men groan under its load, except if it comes in just measure and sorrowless. Having thus judged the offer, Ion 1 proceeded to sum up the blessings he now owned at Delphi, naming first of
all leisure, "dearest of
delights", he said. Then the friendliness of
all surrounding him, while he prayed to the gods or
had conversations with smiling faces, far away from
grief, villains and base men, and close to joy.
"Father", he concluded, "My own life let me
live" (Euripides, Ion 645).
Xuthus 1 keeps secret his bliss
But Xuthus 1, who would not accept such an answer, made arrangements to take Ion 1 with him, and organized a thanksgiving feast and sacrifice, keeping the secret from Creusa 1, for as he generously put it:
"I have no
heart to vex my wife with my own bliss, while she
is childless still." (Euripides, Ion 656).
However, Creusa 1 discovered her husband's bliss while they still were in Delphi, and more sooner than later. For tongues moving faster than many other things in the world, she learned the whole moving story from some servants, including the following detail; that the son whom the god had given Xuthus 1 was the same steward she had seen sweeping the temple's floor when she arrived to Delphi. When her servants, now turned into confidants, saw her in despair, they added more, saying that this is of course the kind of betrayal that can be expected from aliens, who come as strangers, wed somebody, receive the heritage, and so on, only to appear later with clandestine offspring, or another treacherous surprise. Naturally they do not have any intention of sharing fortune, neither for bad nor for worse, since they look for good elsewhere, as Xuthus 1, who most certainly took a slave to his bed, sending his son to the Delphians for both concealment and upbringing.
Now, many feel that unhappiness is easier to
bear if caused by plots, and easiest if the
plotters are aliens. For an alien, they think,
knows better than a fellow countryman how to
exploit innocence, and abuse the goodness of those
who are not aliens, since the moral inhibitions
that stand in the way of the countryman, cannot
stop an alien (who ignores or despises them) from
damaging someone else, who for him, is but an alien
too, that is, someone deprived of moral inhibitions
as well. Strange thought! A labyrinth greater than Daedalus'! And inside it, Creusa 1 lost herself, yielding to her suspicious mind, stirred up by servants, who as they sincerely admitted, loved her more than Xuthus 1, the Thessalian, of whom they said that he ought to have sought a wife of his own race in the first place.
When mistress and servants were thus conversing on this delicate subject, it became evident that Creusa 1 should not be still, but instead should do something "worthy of a
woman", as they called it. It was then this
proposal suddenly popped up:
sword, or by some wiliness or poison slay your
husband and his son, before some treacherous death
shall come from them to you." (Servant to Creusa 1. Euripides, Ion 844).
Now Creusa 1 felt that Apollo had double-crossed
her; for not only had he, after ravishing her,
heartlessly ignored the child she bore him, but
also given her husband a son while leaving her
childless. True that she had once exposed the god's
son in the same cave he was born, the same again
where Apollo ravished
her, but that was in the hope that the god yet
would save his own child. But, as some say, a gods'
heart is harder than steel, and Apollo did nothing, or so believed Creusa 1. All these circumstances, until then unknown, came to the knowledge of the servants, who in their indignation pushed Creusa 1 against the god. But as she did not dare to go against Apollo, they pushed her against her husband, and as she still refused, for old love and loyalty's sake, they pushed her against Ion 1; and since the latter was a complete unknown and a potential intruder, she yielded. When they had come so far, and already some of the servants dreamt of becoming ministers and statesmencrime being one of the ways to reach public officethey proceeded to choose an appropriate method to commit the murder. Dagger was soon discarded because of the risk a public murder involves, and instead poison was chosen, since Creusa 1 had inherited two drops of Medusa 1's blood, which
once Athena had given Erichthonius 2, her great-grandfather, who in turn handed them over to Erechtheus, her own father. These drops she kept in a golden clasp which she bore on her wrist, and as she herself explained to her servants and now fellow plotters, one of them was for healing of disease, and the other for death. On hearing this wonder, the plotters were
delighted: "O dearest, you
have all you need!", said the ambitious one, asking whether Creusa 1 kept the drops mingled in one, or several. And the lady had to enlighten him:
and evil do not blend." (Creusa 1 to her servant. Euripides, Ion 1017).
Having decided about the victim and the method,
they appointed the ambitious servant as slayer, who
himself chose Delphi and
not Athens as the place of the murder. For in those now remote days the theme of "the stepmother's jealousy" was already an old one, and if the crime were committed in Athens, the lady of the house would be held as murderess, though innocent. And so, cleverness inviting not to look guilty, they agreed to slay Ion 1 where they were, so that he also should stay where he was, and so that (as they put it) "never an alien
of alien strain in Athens may reign" (Euripides, Ion 1059). Creusa 1's instructions to her prospective minister were clear: to drop the poison of Athena into Ion 1's cup (and not into the general bowl) in the banquet's pause, when Xuthus 1 and the other guests were pouring wine to the gods. The ambitious servant then, following his mistress' orders, appeared at the banquet when the men had already eaten and, taking charge of the cups and filling them with wine, offered them to the gueststhe one poisoned to Ion 1. But when Ion 1 was about to drink from the deadly chalice, he heard some servant speak some inappropriate word. On hearing it, Ion 1, who had been reared in a temple and therefore was well acquainted with forebodings, held the word for ominous, and bade fill up with wine another bowl. He then cast the first to earth, and asked the guests to do the same. Suddenly a flight of doves dropped down, and dipped their beaks in the spilled wine and none was harmed, but the one who sipped Ion 1's wine died in convulsion.
Creusa 1 chased
This is how the murderous servant was detected; and once the guests had forced him to reveal the plot, they went hunting Creusa 1, the alien lady, whom they intended to hurl from the precipice for planning murder within the precinct. Creusa 1, being chased, sought then refuge at the altar and sat upon it; for heaven's vengeance falls upon those who shed blood in the shrines. And there she was confronted by Ion 1 and the armed men who, in an avenging mood, followed him. Ion 1 would not kill her at the altar, nor she would leave it; and that is why they exchanged many words and accused each other, Ion 1 reproaching her criminal disposition, and Creusa 1 accusing him of wishing to take over, through Xuthus 1, the heritage of the Erechtheids, which belonged to her. But while Ion 1 waited for Creusa 1 to leave the altar so that he could slay her, the Pythian priestess who had once nurtured him appeared with Ion 1's old cradle. And Creusa 1, having recognized it, described to Ion 1 what was inside it, that is, the patterns in that which wrapped him when she exposed him in the cave. This is how Creusa 1 proved that she was Ion 1's mother; and he, having been adopted by Xuthus 1 1, found a new home in Athens, not as the son of an alien (which he had feared), but as full member of the royal family. Or so he thought …
Xuthus 1 banished
When King Erechtheus died, Xuthus 1, being a man of influence, was asked to decide who among the sons of Erechtheus should succeed him on the throne. Xuthus 1 then appointed Cecrops 2 as the successor of Erechtheus, and thereby he won the enmity of the other sons of Erechtheus, being banished by them from the city. Xuthus 1 then came as an exile to Aegialus (near Sicyon) where he made his
home and died.
Peaceful man turns into warlord
After his adoptive father's death, Ion 1, who, from having been a peaceful temple tender had turned into a warlord, waged war against King Selinus, who had inherited and enlarged the kingdom of Aegialeus 2. As this war was taking place, Selinus offered Ion 1 his daughter Helice 2, and proposed to adopt him as son and successor. Ion 1 accepted this proposal (thus being adopted for the second time), marrying the king's daughter, and in time succeeding Selinus on the throne.
It was Ion 1 who founded the city Helice, and called the inhabitants of his realm Ionians. When later war between Athens and Eleusis broke out, Ion 1 was invited by the Athenians to be their commander in chief. And despite the previous conflicts with the Athenians, he came to their aid, as Xuthus 1 once had done, and died in the battlefield being buried at Potami in Attica, where his grave could still be seen many years after his time. It is told (although disputed) that during this war Ion 1 expelled Dysaules (sometimes called father of Triptolemus) from Eleusis, causing him to
settle among the Phliasians (near Sicyon), where he brought
the Eleusinian rites.
Ruler and eponym
Others have said, however, that Ion 1 conquered the Thracians under Eumolpus 1 during the Eleusinian war (for the Thracians supported Eleusis in that war), thereby gaining such repute that the Athenians gave the government to him. They add that Ion 1 divided the people into four occupations, designating them as farmers, artisans, sacred officers, and guards, and establishied other regulations, leaving his own name to the district Attica which was called Ionia. Later the Athenians, to avoid overpopulation, sent forth a colony to Aegialus, which was called Ionia (after those who founded the colony), dividing the new inhabitants into twelve cities, and calling them Ionians instead of Aegialeians. And this is the country which otherwise is called Achaea.
The descendants of Ion 1 continued, after his death, to rule Achaea.
But when after the Trojan
War, the HERACLIDES invaded the Peloponnesus, the Achaeans, who then lived in Argolis under the rule of Tisamenus 2, son of Orestes 2, sent heralds to the Ionians asking for permission to settle among them without warfare. The Ionians, fearing the power of Tisamenus 2, rejected the proposal, and a war broke out in which the Achaeans were victorious. Having been expelled from their country, the Ionians emigrated first to Attica and later to Caria in Asia Minor, where they, led by the sons of Codrus 1, founded some cities and conquered others. Among the descendants of Ion 1 who settled in southwestern Asia Minor (or in the islands off that coast) was Procles 1, son of Pityreus. The latter is said to have reigned in Epidaurus, before he was expelled by Deiphontes (one of the HERACLIDES), to whom
he handed over the kingdom without a struggle,
while he himself settled in Athens.
Others with identical name
- Ion 2 was son of Gargettus. After him the Ionides Nymphs in Elis were called.
- Ion 3 was a soldier in the army of the SEVEN AGAINST