In Euripides’ dramatization of the Ion myth, Ion is the son of Apollo and the Athenian princess Creusa, whom the god has raped. Creusa exposes her child, but Apollo rescues him and raises him in Delphi, where at the play’s beginning he lives as a temple servant, utterly ignorant of his parentage. Apollo, however, has plans for him. Creusa has married a non-Athenian named Xuthus, and Apollo has seen to it that their union is unfruitful. They accordingly come to Delphi to ask the god about having children. In the prologue Hermes tells us that Apollo has guided events to this conclusion so that he may tell Xuthus that Ion is his son and the boy may be taken to Athens and there learn that his real parents are Creusa and Apollo. But events take a turn the god does not foresee.
Creusa, coming ahead of her husband to the temple, meets Ion. Though neither knows that they are related, the two are strangely drawn to one another, each feeling sympathy for the bereft condition of the other. (This would not surprise the audience: the idea that blood will out, that nature is stronger than nurture, pervades Greek myth.) Creusa has come to the temple ahead of her husband in order to consult Apollo about the baby she exposed years ago. She tells Ion that “a friend of mine” was impregnated by Apollo, that this friend exposed her child, and that the