Ion Author:Plato Ion is a dialogue by Plato, in which Socrates and Ion discuss the performing arts and the nature of those who perform on stage. — While quite short compared with other Platonic dialogues, Ion is much appreciated for its spirited tone. The titular Ion is a professional rhapsode, or actor, with experience in playing parts in the Greek drama which w... more »as popular public entertainment across Ancient Greece. Having just won a prize for his latest performance, Ion is on the way back from Asclepius in the city of Epidaurus when the dialogue commences.
Socrates wonders whether Ion's skill is down to a genuine, inborn talent and intelligence or if his 'talent' is infact a form of divine possession. Although Ion, an actor, can capably mimic the behaviour of certain professionals - such as a military general - upon the stage, Socrates finds that the Ion's imitative abilities are distinct from ordinary professions. Socrates then good-spiritedly asserts that Ion himself is actually a Protean; a mimic. Therefore, Plato states through Socrates, acting is an inspiration divined from the Muses.
Scholars have commentated that while Plato professes to be against the arts, paradoxically his own dialogues have such incisive form that they can themselves be thought of as art, albeit in philosophic form. This is no clearer than in Ion, whereby Plato as Socrates disputes a practitioner of the arts directly. Other interpretations see the arguments presented as an attempt at pricking the vanity and pomposity of the acting profession - that they are not themselves intelligent, but merely in possession of a divine gift.« less