It is not merely the mortals who respect xenia and the implications it creates, but the Gods provide and honor the sanctity of guest courtesy in Greek culture as well. Zeus, ruler of the gods, is often known as Zeus Xenia, or the god of travelers. He protects Greek travelers and the mortals respect xenia in fear of Zeus’ wrath and not only to adhere to cultural tradition. The Olympian gods are not above the ramifications of guest friendship and observe it among mortals. When visiting Telemachos Athene appears disguised as a mortal man, Mentes, who is a guest friend of Telemachos’ father Odysseus. Her decision to take the form of a mortal rather than appear as herself in goddess form reveals that while the gods carry influence over the mortals, their influence is lesser than the influence of a guest friend. The power contained in the tradition of xenia is greater than the power of the gods as Athene is more powerful and persuasive as a guest friend than as a goddess.
For Homer’s Greek warriors, kleos or glory won in battle is the primary motivating force in guiding action. However even warriors revere xenia more than kleos. When Diomedes is presented with the opportunity to kill Glaukos he questions Glaukos’ heritage before attacking in order to ensure he is not violating any guest friendship. Upon discovering he and Glaukos are gue...
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... tool. Similar to Diomedes changing his armor, she is changing her appearance and emplying a rouse in order to gain trust with Telemachos. She takes the form of Mentes, a guest friend of Telemachos’ father Odysseus. As a mortal Athene is able to gain the confidence of Telemachos, something she could not in her goddess form. Once more xenia is shown to be more powerful than the god’s, and a device the god’s themselves use when attempting to persuade mortals. While xenia is a sacred tradition that ensures safety and is based on trust, it is not entirely pure and can actually be used as a ruse.
The correlation of xenia and reputation are vital in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Xenia is a tradition that is respected above all else, including glory won in war, and the relationships of guest friendship among mortals are more influential than the authority of the gods.
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