The Significance Of ?Xenia? Essay

1435 words - 6 pages

The Significance of “Xenia”
     Ancient Greece is known for its beautiful theaters and its skilled poets. One of the most famous ones at that time and famous even now is Homer. Nobody knows who he actually is but the works that he has created are far more than magnificent. The Odyssey and The Iliad are two poems that turned into myths, have actually been accepted as part of the history of the Greeks. The Odyssey is a story about a hero from the Trojan War who struggles to get home to his family and when he finally does he faces the suitors who he fights and defeats with the help of the gods and his son who he hasn't seen for around twenty years. The gradual development of the plot, the actual, end of the book is easily noticed. A big role in that development plays hospitality or as Homer calls it the xenia. Odysseus' journey on his way back to his island Ithaca contains numerous details about hospitality and what it is to be a good or a bad host. His voyage is based on the kindness and the warmth of the people. There are gods and humans, and giants that do not appreciate the hero but he deals with them and we meet with the actual plot of the story, his homecoming.
Warmth and kindness are presented within every visit described in the book. Homer draws a very good picture of how guests are welcomed, what entertainment they are given and the way they are send on their way. The picture is filled with kindness and warmth. We could say that the kind of hospitality presented in the book is hardly seen today. The different steps of welcoming some one are really interesting. The host is bathed and fed right after his arrival no matter who he is. Hosts do not really present the question that identifies their guest until later on, after he has been well rested and entertained. A great example of this is when Telemachos and Athene, in the body of Mentor, visit Nestor. When Nestor sees the two men he has never seen before he has a feast with his sons and companions. In the sight of the strangers they all stand up and greet them. The first thing that is done is to find a place for the two guests on the table and to feed them. “When they had satisfied their appetite and thirst, Nestor, the Gerenian charioteer, said: ‘Now that our visitors have eaten well, it is the right moment to put some questions to them and enquire who they are?”(Book#3line 68-72). In this quote we see some of the interesting customs of welcoming a guest. They are even more emphasized in the visit of Telemachus and Nestor's son to Menelaus, in Sparta. More specifically in the words of Menelaus to his servant when he is asked if the strangers should be send away: " ‘Eteoneus, son of Boethus, you have not always been a fool; but at the moment you are talking nonsense like a child. You and I enjoyed much hospitality from strangers before we reached our homes and could expect that Zeus might grant us a life without suffering in time to come. Unyoke their horses...

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