Hospitality In The Odyssey Essay

972 words - 4 pages

Hospitality is a way of life in a wide variety of cultures. The ways the people in different cultures act towards their guests may differ. Good hospitality is and was an important part of Greek tradition. In TheOdyssey there are examples of Xenia being followed and violated.Xenia is shown time and again throughout The Odyssey. People open their homes up to whoever happens to stumble across them. Throughout their many journeys, both Odysseus and his son Telemachus were invited into many homes. There, they were bathed, fed, and waited upon until they were ready to set out on their own once again. These hosts that took strangers into their homes believed " its wrong to…send any strangers packing…every stranger and beggar comes from Zeus"(XIV: 64-66). Although some of these people did this out of the graciousness of their heart, the gods seemed to play a role in their reasoning also. The fear of the gods seemed to have a great influence on their actions towards their guests.Once a guest was prepared to leave, the host usually sent gifts along with him. These gifts could be to help him for the remainder of his journey, or just as a token of his gratitude. The first example of gift giving is when Telemachus reaches the palace of King Nestor. When the son of Odysseus arrived to Nestor's kingdom he was given a royal treatment. Telemachus was fed and entertained by stories told by the king himself. Afterwards, he was provided with a place to stay for the night. In the morning, he was given another feast before he is ready to leave. When he was ready to leave, Nestor ordered his servants to "bring Telemachus horses, a good full-maned team"(III: 532-533). Along with the horses, inside the chariot, "a housekeeper stowed some bread and wine aboard and meats too, food fit for the sons of kings"(III: 537-538). Nestor provided all these things along with his son to escort them along their journey. The second example of gift giving is when Telemachus met King Menelaus. After being instructed by King Nestor, Telemachus set out to meet Menelaus. After Telemachus explained that he must leave, Menelaus offered him many gifts. Menelaus wished to give Telemachus "three stallions and a chariot burnished bright…and a gorgeous cup"(IV: 662-663). Telemachus regretfully declined these gifts for his own reasons. In exchange, Menelaus instead gave Telemachus " a mixing bowl…solid silver finished off with a lip of gold"(IV: 692-693). The third example is the gifts that the Phaeacians gave to Odysseus. After welcoming Odysseus into his palace and listening to his many tales, King Alcinous sent him on his way. He is not sent alone though. The Phaeacians took Odysseus on a great ship to his homeland of Ithaca. When they arrived to the shores of Ithaca, the Phaeacians "laid him down on the sand...

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