Hospitality In 'the Odyssey Of Homer' A Verse Translation By Allen Mandelbaum

940 words - 4 pages

A guest in need enters a house, interrupting the host and his company during a feast. The guest believed to be a god or a beggar, either way is welcomed to feast and stay in the host's lavish house. Hospitality is an important reoccurring theme in the novel, The Odyssey by Robert Fitzgerald. Hospitality was seen as an important obligation in Ancient Greece, serving as a means of communication and often as a test for the gods. The disregards of giving hospitality, or disrespecting received hospitality, persistently lead to harsh consequences.In the novel the Odyssey, hospitality was constantly shown to visitors, they were welcomed to feast and showered in luxuries. These generous acts of hospitality were custom in ancient Greek civilization, a means of communication and essential to satisfy the gods. Hospitality was considered an obligation in ancient Greek times, one was both expected to supply and treat hospitality appropriately. When Eteoneus, the King's assistant asked whether he should welcome Telemakos and Athena, Melenelos replied "Could we have made it home again, if no other men had never fed us given us lodging." Ancient Greece was a group of secluded civilizations, because of the unpredictable sea and the harsh terrain communication was a difficult business, news of the outside world h through guests was welcomed and well rewarded. Telemakhos had received no word of his long lost father for twenty years, so when Athena arrives disguised, she is welcomed for hope of news of Odysseys, "Greetings, stranger! Welcome to our feast. There will be time to tell your errand later". Greek hospitality often seemed overwhelming leading to believe that hospitality was not shown through pure decency, but often to satisfy the gods. Because gods were able to walk among earth, hosts had no certain idea if their guests were mortal or not. Even if their guest was a beggar the gods viewed hospitality as a important moral, "for it is Zeus who sends to us all beggars and strangers, and a gift, however small, means much when given by a man like me" (275). Eumaeus explains that Zeus demands outstanding hospitality among mortals and even a small amount given means a great deal. The god's emphasis on hospitality was well known by mortals and so when Odysseys seeks help from Aeouls, Aeouls provides Odysseys with an ox skin bag filled with potential dangerous winds to ease his journey home. However when Odysseys and his crew are blown back due, Aeouls refuses to help because he believes the gods must despise anyone so unlucky, "no law, no wisdom, lays it on me now to help a man the blessed gods detest-out! Your voyage here was cursed by heaven!" (167) Showing often that hospitality is not shown through pure decency but in spit of the gods.Hospitality as explained was an ancient Greek custom that was necessary by...

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