BMCR 1998.01.06

Euripides, Ion

, Euripides, Ion. Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1997. Pp. vi, 330.

1. The Aris and Phillips series must be given credit for yet another useful edition of a Euripidean tragedy, the eleventh so far (six more are in preparation). Modestly presented as “designed to encourage students to read the play in a responsive way”, Lee’s notes are a bit fuller than his colleagues’ in the series, and indeed longer than those of Owen (the last editor to write a ‘scholarly’ commentary on the play [Oxford 1939]; R. Garner is working on a new one, and Lee had access to his notes). Assuredly, Lee is in debt to previous commentators for many observations and parallels, but his edition has distinctive characteristics, offers new suggestions and will be of considerable use to scholars. Most of the notes focus on literary and ideological interpretation, and are superior to his predecessors’ rather scanty contributions in these fields.

2.1. Many subtle and perceptive studies of the Ion have been published in the past twenty years, and Lee takes full advantage of them. He seems to be more sympathetic with a traditional style of criticism, focusing on character, plot and form, but issues of political theory and gender are clearly addressed. It has often been noticed, for instance, how autochthony myths and xenophobic nationalism are bound up with traditional beliefs concerning the female role in reproduction and sex. Lee, following an already well established line of interpretation, argues that the play reintroduces the mother into the foundation myth and that she “reclaims her reproductive role by speaking out [] about her rape” (p. 35). Lee also remarks that Apollo’s objectionable behaviour (cf. on ll. 448 and 1558) undermines the glory of the Athenian imperialistic (‘colonial’) myth (cf. p. 34). On the other hand, Lee stresses that Kreousa herself shares the xenophobic attitude of the Old Man and the Chorus, and undermines her own claims on female role in reproduction. The final revelation that her rebellion was an error ultimately reinforces the autochthony tradition, and the focus on the male in reproduction (p. 35 f.).

Lee argues that (from the point of view of an Athenian audience) “the rape is to be seen in the light of its results. It is Apollo’s supposed neglect of his child, rather than the rape itself, which is Kreousa’s chief complaint” (p. 32). Strangely enough, Lee sees Hermes’ account of Ion’s birth as more “reliable” than Kreousa’s own (on l. 949): this sort of question, and this sort of answer, is in fact part of the game that male and female readers play in responding to a tragedy that forces them to take sides. Lee’s interpretation is generally distant from feminist positions (cf. on ll. 887, 895; contrast N. S. Rabinowitz, Anxiety Veiled, Ithaca-London 1993, 197-201, with the qualifications of F. Zeitlin, BMCR 5 (1994) 544-552). Something more could have been said on female/male roles in plotting scenes (on pp. 268 f.), and on Xouthos as male foreigner, inferior to the autochthonous female Kreousa (a topos of comedy, from Helen and Iphigenia Taurica to L’Italiana in Algeri). Monsters defeated by Athena figure prominently in the Ion, and Lee is perceptive to the nuances of the allusions, especially in connection with the darker side of the autochthony myths (cf. on ll. 224, 991, 992 f., 1262).

His attention to themes, imagery and ideology goes along with a more traditional analysis of characters and plot. Improbabilities or inconsistencies are carefully evaluated: cf. his notes on ll. 16, 71-73, 347, 813 (Lee is probably too strict: Ion’s age cannot be determined with absolute certainty, and he could have been born a short time before Kreousa’s marriage), 851 f., 1021, 1596. The Chorus and the Old Man are judged a bit harshly (cf. on p. 23, and on ll. 761 f., 781, 819, 1523; p. 242 and 825). Lee strikes a middle ground on the question of the genre and tone of the play (p. 37 f.): not a “full fledged comedy” (Knox), the Ion includes however humorous elements, and blends Xouthos’ “fatuity” and Kreousa’s “sadness” and desperation. Lee offers a sober evaluation of the comedy of misunderstanding at ll. 517 ff., playing down the alleged homosexual connotations. (Cf. also his article “Shifts of Mood and Concepts of Time in Euripides’Ion” in Tragedy and the Tragic, ed. by M. S. Silk, Oxford 1996, 85-109). He also has a good series of notes on religion, festivals and their chronology (see on ll. 285, 421, 653, 716-718, 804-807, 1076, 1125-1127; cf. on l. 1220 f., on Gaia and Delphi).

2.2. A few observations and addenda to the non-philological notes. Ll. 390 f.: W. Kraus’ interpretation of the change in number from ‘we’ to ‘I’ (cf. WS 102 (1989) 35-110 esp. 49) is unlikely: cf. Bond on HF 858. L. 954 “who exposed him then? It was certainly not you?” (the Old Man to Kreousa) is not so much a “questioning of the morality of exposure” (Lee ad loc.), as much as a ‘Jesuitical’ attitude towards it (Kreousa should have given the baby to others to expose, as was customary, cf. e.g. OR 1173 ff.). Ll. 1389-1436: compare Aigeus’ miraculously preserved sword and sandals (Call. Hecale fr. 9 and 11 Hollis, especially reminiscent of Ion 1394; cf. also Plut. Thes. 3 and 6), that serve as recognition tokens for Theseus. When Theseus arrives in Athens, Medea attempts to kill him by poisoning his drinking cup at a banquet (cf. Euripides’Aigeus, Plut. Thes. 12; Herter in RE S XIII 1057 f., 1081-1083; C. Sourvinou-Inwood, Theseus as Son and Stepson, London 1979, pp. 25 f.) Ll. 1549-1622: Athena’s role as deus ex machina (cf. Lee, pp. 33 and 315) is all the more important in a play on Ion’s “going to his mother’s house” (l. 71), as Kreousa shares a roof with Athena (ll. 235 f. and 1434-1436 with Lee’s notes).

3.1. Lee prints Diggle’s 1981 Oxford text. This is, in a sense, a pity. Lee disagrees with Diggle in almost forty passages, and it would have made sense to present a new text, just as Seaford did for the Bacchae (where he differs from Diggle in only about twenty passages). The Greek has been retyped anyway (cf., in the same series, Barlow’s Heracles, 1996, esp. p. 18), not simply photographed from the OCT (as for instance in Collard’s Hecuba, 1991). Ion is transmitted only by the manuscript L, and there was little danger of misrepresenting the paradosis. Lee’s text would have been more prudent than Diggle’s, and much less uncritical than Biehl’s ( Euripidis Ion, Leipzig 1979). Lee’s textual judgement is sound and his notes on textual problems are concise and incisive. His book, along with Kraus, op. cit., is the first thorough re-examination of Diggle’s text of the play, and deserves to be discussed at some length. I will discuss first the new textual suggestions proposed in his book, then his disagreements with Diggle in acceptance or choice of conjectures and deletions. Finally, I will provide addenda and corrigenda to the text and the philological notes.

3.2. Of Lee’s own contributions I would single out the discussion of ll. 352-359 (cf. Hermes 119 (1991) 469-472). Objecting to Diggle’s transposition (355 f. placed after 358), Lee rightly finds its weak point in the junction of 356 to 359. His own solution, placing 355 f. after 352, is more appealing and the corruption easy to explain (similar line beginnings at 352-357). With Lee’s transposition all the ironic references to Ion’s age and survival (353.4.7.8) are grouped together. I consider the suggestion clever, but not ultimately convincing. I have reservation on Ion picking up again the issue of the ‘dead’ child (l. 353) after ll. 355 f., which seem to conclude the matter. In Lee’s own words (op. cit., 470), “the reference to the friend’s subsequent childlessness is out of place in the discussion of the lost child’s fate”. It is better to leave ll. 355 f. as late as possible in the discussion. If we preserve the transmitted order, 355 is a conclusion to the whole story of the mysterious baby. After Kreousa’s reply (l. 356), Ion comes up with an afterthought (“what if Phoebos took him and rears him in secret?”, l. 357) that ironically preempts his own next line (359: “her misfortune chimes in with my own sufferings”).

At l. 300 Lee doubts σηκοῖς δ’ ὑστερεῖ (Badham, Diggle; σηκοὺς δ’ εὖ στρέφει λ and considers writing σηκοὺς δ’ ἐστάλη (cl. Med. 668) or, with Reiske, σηκοὺς δ’ ἐκστρέφει. After the question “have you come to the oracle with your husband or alone?” (l. 299) an answer “with my husband; but he went to the precinct of Trophonios” lacks an indication of time (” he stopped at “), which is provided by ὑστερεῖ. Moreover, Ion’s following question (“to see the sights or in order to receive an oracle?”) would absurdly refer to seeing Trophonios’ precinct, not Delphi. If Kreousa, using a verb like ὑστερέω, stresses that Xouthos should now be in Delphi, not at Trophonios’ sanctuary, the connection is easier.

376-7: ἢ προβωμίοις {δι’ OI)WNW=N} <σκοπουμένοις is Lee’s exempli gratia suggestion, bracketing as a gloss the prepositional phrase, “oddly otiose” beside πτεροῖς (for similar solutions cf. already D. Kovacs, TAPA 109 (1979) 115 n. 7). But the uariati dative / διά + genitive sounds Euripidean (cf. Suppl. 602, Or. 863 f., fr. 1063. 9). I suspect πτεροῖς of being corrupt.

At l. 390 Lee reports a plausible conjecture by C. Collard (ἀλλ’ [Reiske] ἐᾶν χρὴ τ). Cf. however Cho. 508 and Garvie ad loc. I do not think synizesis of ἐᾶν can be absolutely ruled out.

556: the division ἐκπέφευγα μὲν τὸ δοῦλον “I have escaped slavery at least” (ἐκπεφεύγαμεν λ) is possible but not particularly attractive. Ion’s main concern is escaping slavery (309-311; 1382 f.; but cf. also 670-675), and I do not see why he should qualify his relief.

At l. 1304 Lee (who transposes ll. 1300-1303 after 1295 with Nauck and Diggle) considers ἡμῖν δέ γ’ to be unacceptable in the context, but does not offer a conjecture. His argument could be used against Nauck’s transposition. Mention of the father makes perfect sense after l. 1303.

3.3. Lee successfully defends the manuscript text against conjectures adopted or advanced by Diggle in a number of cases (355 NIN, 476 καρποτρόφοι [see also Wilamowitz in his commentary ad loc., Berlin 1926], 711 δείπνων). His notes will be important reading for critics dealing with the text these passages. However, at l. 379 I side with Diggle against Lee in preferring the well balanced sentence created by Stephanus’ ἀνόνητα to the intolerably tautologous paradosis “the benefits we get by force striving against the gods’ will are forced benefits”. At 608 f. in the line Lee quotes as a parallel for the transmitted accusative ( Ag. 1347) no object is expressed in the text as generally printed by modern editors. Cf. perhaps Ion 857, Thuc. VIII 8.1 (Wecklein’s parallels), Eur. fr. 493. 3-4, OC 1484 (but a longer discussion is needed, if the text is to be kept). In 999 inserting OU) with Badham and Diggle is much preferable to the harsh aposiopesis of L, which Lee favours. For the corruption cf. Prom. 328, Sept. 202 with West’s apparatus, Eur. fr. 68.

Lee also differs from Diggle in the choice of conjectures. I would especially recommend his choice at ll. 1061 (Headlam, cf. Trach. 28, Ai. 1124, Eur. fr. 324. 6, and phrases like Ba. 617, (Fraenkel on) Ag. 1668) and 1454 (Wilamowitz; for the metre cf. Lee on 796-799). On the other hand, I don’t have much sympathy for Iakov’s palaeographically clever ἀδιερεύνητα at 255 (ἀνερεύνητα λ: ἀνερμνήνευτα Wakefield, Diggle), that Lee thinks worth of consideration: in reacting to ‘riddling’ monologues, characters lament the ‘prophetic’ obscurity of the utterance (cf. Ion 430 with Ag. 1112), which needs a μάντις (cf. Hipp. 236, Hec. 743) to be interpreted. For ἑρμενεύω in prophetic context cf. Tro. 429, fr. 636. 5.

Finally, I would like to point out that credit for the conjectures at ll. 11 (προσβόρ: Barnes) and 525 ({E}μέ: Heath, not in Lee’s selective apparatus) must go to Livineius, whose unpublished Euripidean marginalia date from 1581 (for the date cf. H. Lloyd-Jones and N. G. Wilson, Sophoclea, Oxford 1990, 274). I collated his notes, now kept in the British Library. Similarly, the conjecture κομίζηι ‘ς at l. 1562 must be assigned to Wilamowitz, not Diggle. Wilamowitz ad loc., followed by D. Sansone CPh 79 (1989) 336, mistakenly attributes this reading to Hermann, who printed κομίζηι σ’ with Lenting (Euripides, Ion, recensuit G. H., Lipsiae 1827). Puzzingly, Wilamowitz, in his own text, reads κομίζηι ‘ς [intermedial sigma] [ sic ]: a misprint or a careless note was possibly the source of the conjecture. J. Diggle, Euripidea, Oxford 1994, 519 n. 4 and his apparatus at ll. 11, 525 and 1562 should be corrected accordingly. In Lee’s apparatus correct the attribution at l. 565 (not Barnes but apogr. Par.: Diggle, Euripidea, 522), and add at l. 713 “ἰώ] Badham: ἵνα λ” (Lee’s note ad loc. is puzzling without this piece of information).

4. Lee does not shrink from the problems of transposition and deletion. I find possible or attractive the deletion of l. 1004 f. (del. Kraus, op. cit., 80, Lee; the lines were inserted probably in order to skip 1006-1018; cf. Mastronarde on Pho. 141-144 n. 1, 428, 915; H. C. Guenther, Exercitationes Sophocleae, Göttingen 1996, 19-105) and 1035 (del. Paley, Kraus, Lee; consider also Wecklein’s {τῶι νεανίαι PA=SI}).

The excision of ll. 605 f. (Kraus, op. cit., 61), considered “tempting” by Lee, is not convincing. The lines are required for rhetorical balance: Ion anticipates hostility from three classes of people (the powerless, the σοφοί, and οἱ χρώμενοι τὴι πόλει) if he enters the political arena in Athens, and gives putative reasons for the hostility of each class (595, 601, 605 f.). Lines 605 f. are admittedly not very profound political theory, as Kraus and Lee note, and can hardly be judged the “Pointe” of his speech (W. Biehl, Philologus 136 (1992) 17, defending the lines), but previous gnomai (“superiority causes offence”: l. 595) do not go much deeper. Constructing a neat antithesis and a consistent, if pedantic, argument is what really matters in this section of the speech. The false attribution of the lines to the Glaukos in Stobaios does not mean much (I consider genuine El. 379).

Lee argues for rejecting most of the major deletions accepted by Diggle in this tragedy: 374-377 (del. Badham); 578-581 (post Murray et Wilamowitz del. Diggle); 844-858 (post Murray del. Diggle; Lee deletes only 847-849); 1275-1278 (del. Diggle). He prefers to assume corruption to explain linguistic anomalies, even if a convincing conjecture cannot be found (which is not surprising, given the faint manuscript tradition of the play). I side with Lee in these passages, if with qualms for 374-377. I would add to Lee’s arguments in favour of 578-581 that if the lines are not genuine, Ion has no idea of what Xouthos will do with him in Athens (keep him apart from his household? make him heir to his personal fortune only [cf. l. 1305]? integrate him into Kreousa’s family?). It would be rude of Ion to refuse riches and honours that have not even been offered to him. However, unlike Lee I am not completely happy with the text of ll. 579 f.

3.5 To Lee’s corrigenda to the text add the following: misprints in accents at ll. 90 and 549; delete the dash at l. 511; full stop at the end of ll. 786 and 944; at l. 1490 Diggle’s reading is ἀνῆψα (Paley) not ἐνῆψα ).

Lee generally follows Diggle in not printing punctuation marks at the end of an incomplete sentence, but has often left strings of dots (e.g. at ll. 265, 271, 534 f., 551). This might cause some confusion, since an argument has been made for differentiating the use of dash, strings of dots, and omission of punctuation according to the type of suspended utterance (D. J. Mastronarde, Contact and Discontinuity, Berkeley 1979, 53). Note that Diggle uses dots in the first (1984) and third (1994) volumes of the OCT. Unlike Diggle and Lee, I do not regard l. 1347 as a complete sentence (cf. Mastronarde, Contact, 57 n. 16).

I would suggest the following further changes to Diggle’s text: l.1 adopt Elmsley’s νώτοις χαλκέοισι. At l. 755 Kreousa asks ἀλλ’ ἦ τι (Scaliger: ἀλλὰ τί λ. Schmid, Diggle and Lee: νοσῶ λ): “Is there something amiss, I ask you, in your masters’ affairs because of the oracle?” (δεσπότων could also depend from θεσπάτοισι). But metaphorical νοσέω either takes a personal subject, and generally the dative of the cause of trouble (cf. also Or. 407, frr. 497, 566), or the dative of the person concerned and the problematic issue as subject ( Ion 364, IT 1018, Soph. El. 1070). It is unsafe to create this construction by conjecture, and the change to νοσεῖ does not look probable, given that L assigns the line to the Old Man (wrongly, cf. M. Huys, Hermes 121 (1993) 423-5). I would suggest writing δύσποτμος νοσῶ or (τἰ δύσποτμον νοσῶ (cf. HF 1128) The corruption would have been caused by δεσπότας at l. 751. At l. 1198 ὡς δ’ begins a new sentence (cf. ll. 15, 53, 823, 1168); a semicolon after the parenthesis (that Diggle inherited from Murray) would be better than a comma. At l. 1530 Hartung’s οὔτις, not Diggle’s οὐδείς, is the best correction for ὅστις (cf. Kraus, op. cit., 107, who however slightly distorts Diggle’s point).

4. Lee makes no pretence to elegance in the translation (cf. p. 41) and tries to retain as much as possible of the syntax, the word-order and the repetitions of the original. The translation will certainly be of use to students in construing the Greek. As a non-native speaker it is difficult for me to judge whether the effect is really awkward. At times breaking down a sentence would have made things easier, for students and Greekless readers alike. Ll. 813-816, for instance, are translated as “he [Xouthos] is a man who, after marrying you, he a foreigner who had made his way into our city, and getting hold of your house and entire inheritance, has been shown to be fathering children by another woman. How this was done in secret I shall explain”. To make things worse, Lee, by oversight, leaves out the rhetorically crucial first λάθραι of l. 816 (“fathering children in secret“).

Note also: l. 29 “Kinsman” (σύγγονε) should have been “brother” (Apollo is speaking to Hermes: cf. Eum. 89 and e.g., IT 805). L. 650 εὐτυχεῖν δ’ ἐπίστασο is not “Learn to be happy!” (Lee, similarly Bayfield), but “learn to bear your prosperity”. L. 806: full stop, not comma before “her husband” (and capitalise “her”). L. 820: “sending it away” is too bland a rendering of ξενόω (for Ion as Xouthos’xenos cf. ll. 654 and 805). L. 907: not “Ooee, I call on the son of Leto, who gives response”, but “I call on you, , who give”. L. 945: “Those were the woes which I now reveal openly to you” apparently translates ταῦτ’ [Hartung: τοῦτ’ λ] ἦν ἃ νῦν σοι φανερὰ σημαίνω κακά, not the clearly superior τότ’ . Dindorf) printed by Diggle and Lee. L. 1031: “go where my husband, without telling me, is sacrificing an ox” does not translate ἵν’ ἡμῖν βουθυτεῖ λάθραι πόσις edd.), but ἡμῶν, a conjecture that I have not seen proposed by anyone (the ethical dative of L is in fact not very satisfactory).

In the Greek of ll. 1433-1435 (translated as “a garland of olive which first sprouted from the rock of Athena and which, if it is the one, has lost none of its colour”) the first “which” refers to “olive”, the second to “garland”. But these are occasional blemishes in an otherwise clear and accurate translation.

5 The staging of the Ion is relatively unproblematic. Stage directions for Xouthos’ entrance at l. 516 and the Servant’s exit at l. 1228 are missing. Lee (p. 40) assumes that Xouthos was accompanied by attendants. He omits to mention them in the stage direction at line 401. Leaving them out is perhaps wiser: they cannot follow Xouthos into the temple at l. 424, nor should they wait for him on stage until line 675, when he leaves for good. It would not be convincing to assign them to Kreousa’s entourage (leaving at line 428).

6 Lee succeeds very well in leading the reader through this complex tragedy without simplifying the issues. This is certainly the best one-book introduction to the play, much more useful to a student than previous commentaries. Its analysis of themes and details makes the reader especially attentive to the nuances of the Euripidean artistry. Lee has produced a very satisfactory and useful book, which will be used as a valuable source of up-to-date information on textual and interpretative problems. 1

1. I thank A Griffiths and C. Kraus for discussing this review with me and correcting my English.