Xenia And Hospitality In Homer’s Epic The Odyssey

815 words - 3 pages

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:8-9). Hospitality can lead down a path of happiness and joy when ensued. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey, Xenia is an important factor in the foremost important character’s journey home. The role of xenia in the odyssey when followed can be very beneficial and when not followed, deadly. When abiding by xenia, Telemakhos and Odysseus make great steps towards regaining the power from the suitors in Ithaka.

In the Telemakhia, Telemakhos goes on a journey of his own using xenia to come closer to finding his father, Odysseus. During Odysseus’s absence Telemakhos welcomes a stranger (Athena) into his home: “Greetings, Stranger! Welcome to our feast. There will be time to tell your errand later” (I. 156-158). Welcoming Athena into the house was the best favor Telemakhos could give, resulting in blessings later. After staying with King Nestor for a while Telemakhos realizes he must leave and is rewarded for staying with Nestor: “Lord son of Atreus, no, you must not keep me. Not that a year with you would be too long; I never could be homesick here- I find your tales and all you say so marvelous. But time hangs heavy on my shipmates’ hands at holy Pylos, if you make me stay. As for your gift, now, let it be some keeps (IV. 635-640) Telemakhos was greatly welcomed by king Nestor and his palace, working greatly towards Telemakhos’s advantage later: ‘When they saw the strangers/ a hail went up and all that crowd came forward/ calling out invitations to the feast’ (III. 38-40). Telemakhos is rewarded with new crew members and a ship to find Oysseus.

Odysseus makes his journey home to Ithaka, stopping at many different households displaying the importance of xenia. To help Odysseus return to Ithaka sooner Aiolos hands him a bag of wind: ‘When in return I asked his leave to sail/ and asked provisioning, he stinted nothing,/ adding a bull’s hide sewn from neck to tail/ into a mighty bag, bottling storm winds;/ for Zeus had long ago made Aiolos/ warden of winds, to rouse or calm at will’ (X. 19-23). Aiolos shares the hosts gift to the guest after sheltering and feeding Odysseus. Odysseus is sent home after staying with king Alkinoos: “I can assure you now of passage late...

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