Ion from Chios

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Ion of Chios (* 490 BC to Chios ; † 423/22 BC or 422/421 BC) was an ancient Greek poet, especially a playwright. Because of the primarily biographical information in his diverse literary production, he is also counted among the historians .


It took its name from Ion , who, according to Greek mythology, was the progenitor of the Ionians . When he was about fifteen, his father sent him to Athens for training and was accepted into the Kimons house , with whom he maintained a friendly relationship throughout his life. Even after completing his apprenticeship, he seems to have returned to Athens for several years and came into contact with numerous leading personalities from politics (Kimon, Themistocles , Pericles ), philosophy ( Socrates ) and art (e.g. Sophocles and Aeschylus ) Contact.

With Euripides , the latest of the famous classical Greek tragedy poets , he measured himself in 429 BC. At the festival in honor of the god Dionysus in a poetic contest ( agon) that took place between 455 and 408 BC. Was carried out regularly. So-called tetralogies were performed , each consisting of three tragedies and a rather grotesque satyr play . If Ion 429 with third place was still behind Euripides, who took first place with the traditional Hippolytus , and behind an unknown second, he was able to win the competition the following year. Out of gratitude and joy for this success, he is said to have given every inhabitant of Athens, around 20,000 at that time, a glass of wine from his homeland Chios.


As with most ancient authors, only fragments of Ion's works have survived. Other writers and historians attribute twelve tragedies to him, and according to other sources 30 or even 40 tragedies - as well as dithyrambs and lyrical songs, comedies , epigrams , paiane and hymns , scolia , encomies and elegies .

The following prose writings are mentioned:

" The Legation Report " (" Presbeutikos " or " Synekdemetikos ") - Apparently the tragedian had attended a delegation and prepared a report on his observations in which he also characterized the negotiating partners.

" The settlement of Chios " - A local history of his homeland Chios, which begins in mythical prehistoric times: Poseidon then fathered a son with a nymph on the island and named him as "because of the wind of the nymph snow [chión] from heaven to earth fell ", Chios. According to further mythological genealogies , information about an invasion of the Carians on the island follows, then also about the apparently historical persons Amphiklos or the Chi ruler Hector - and references to a historical process: the latter's participation in the " Panionia " where he is even said to have received a tripod as a "prize for special bravery".

" Cosmologikos " (or " Triagmos ") - philosophical writing of unknown content.

" Hypomnemata " / " Epidemiai " (translated by Kurt von Fritz as "presence in various places") - Biographical characterizations of personalities known personally with Ion, including Kimon , Themistocles , Pericles , Socrates and Sophocles , as well as well-known places. The quotations obtained from this work are mainly from Plutarch , but modern research suggests that it was also used by other authors. Originally a memoir, the fragments also have significance for the relevant contemporary history.

In the Apology of Socrates , Plato reproduces some of Ion's thoughts and sayings.

Text output


Overview representations

  • Luc Brisson : Ion de Chios. In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques . Volume 3, CNRS Éditions, Paris 2000, ISBN 2-271-05748-5 , pp. 864-866.
  • Bernhard Zimmermann : The Attic Tragedy. In: Bernhard Zimmermann (Hrsg.): Handbook of Greek literature in antiquity. Volume 1: The literature of the archaic and classical times . CH Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-57673-7 , pp. 484-610, here: 606 f.

Introductions and investigations

  • Victoria Jennings, Andrea Katsaros (Ed.): The World of Ion of Chios . Brill, Boston / Leiden 2007, ISBN 978-90-04-16045-3 .
  • Otto Lendle : Introduction to Greek historiography. From Hekataios to Zosimos . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1992, ISBN 3-534-10122-7 , pp. 28-32.

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