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Friend Of A Stranger Essay

784 words - 4 pages

Hospitality, according to Wikipedia’s definition, it as a generous reception or entertainment of guests; however, the Greeks have a better definition. In Greek, hospitality is translated to philoxenia, or literally “friend of a stranger”. This is a deeper meaning of hospitality, and it is displayed in many forms and fashions, even in literature. Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, is a prime example of a piece of literature that contains the theme of hospitality. The Odyssey centers on a man named Odysseus and his journey back to his homeland, Ithaka, after the Trojan War. Throughout the story, Homer constantly reveals the hospitality the Greek citizens offer to fellow travelers, for the Greeks ...view middle of the document...

Alkinoos is a very hospitable man to all travelers and is the perfect example as to how a Greek was expected to treat a traveler as a guest. He sacrifices much more than any traveler would expect to receive from a host, but Alkinoos is not the only king who is hospitable to travelers.
Meneleus exhibits true hospitality when accepting Telemakhos into his palace. Telemakhos is intrigued to know what has become of his father, so he resorts to asking one of Odysseus’ friends, Meneleus, King of Sparta, who fought alongside Odysseus during the Trojan War. When Telemakhos arrives, Meneleus has no knowledge that Telemakhos is Odysseus’ son. Still Meneleus invites Telemakhos into his palace because he wants, ‘“…these men to be [his] guests”’ (4.39). Meneleus is no fool to not accept Telemakhos and his men into his palace. He knows that these men could be gods, and that if they were gods, they could inflict terrible suffering upon him if he denied them hospitality. Meneleus, the most powerful man in Sparta, is still humble to obeying the traditional law of hospitality to travelers. Given all the power Meneleus has, he does not have to accept Telemakhos and his men into his palace, yet he allows them to stay. He is unprepared for his guests, but even when his servant...

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