The Odyssey serves as a great example of an ideal that the ancient Greeks valued, the sense of hospitality towards others. Odysseus and his men were “beholden for [the Cyclops’] help, or any gifts [he] give[s]-as custom is to honor strangers” (194-196). Not knowing of the Cyclopean nature, Odysseus pursued for hospitality as it is a Greek practice to greet strangers with gifts. To the Greeks, hospitality was a divine right, whether it was from the fear of Gods or just a simple duty as a human being. The Lotus-Eaters seemed to be a welcoming people, “only offering the sweet Lotus to [Odysseus’] friends” (79).
The theme of hospitality in The Odyssey is of extreme importance. The Odyssey is an anthem to one of the most honored ancient Greek society’s value, as was hospitality. Hospitality tended to bond Greek’s personal relationship, such as friendship and at the same time loyalty; it symbolizes respect, honor, and justices. Although most of the host from The Odyssey did honor their guesses, Odysseus and his son Telemachus, the most remarkable examples of genuine hospitality in the poem are three. Nestor of Pylos and Meneláos lord of Sparta, they gave a great welcome to Odysseus’s son Télemakhus.
Homer emphasizes hospitality from everyone during Telemachus’ and Odysseus’ journeys, using a man’s xenos, host/guest relationships, with his guest to infer his integrity and character. If a man isn’t pure, then he doesn’t show hospitality and Homer makes sure that man is put in his proper place through the vengeance of those he has wronged. As far as integrity goes, there is none greater than Telemachus. He is a moral and virtuous prince, devoted both to his mother and to his father’s house, so when Athena appears in the house of Odysseus, Telemachus does all that he can to show hospitality to her despite having little left to offer from Penelope’s suitors. These men are the scum of the Earth.
Xenia in The Odyssey Hospitality today is nothing like it was in Ancient Greece. Today, good hospitality is being friendly and respectful to a guest. In Ancient Greece, hospitality was something people had to do, or face the wrath of Zeus. Zeus’s law of hospitality is that any stranger that comes to your home, the host must be willing to feed, entertain, and maybe offer them a bath and anything else they might be in need of without question until those things had been given, and also give them a parting gift. The guest, in turn, would not be a burden in any way.
Odysseus' Relationship with Telemachus in Homer's Odyssey Throughout the last books of The Odyssey Homer tells us how Odysseus restores his relationships with his friends and relatives at Ithaca. Perhaps one of the most revealing of these restoration episodes is Odysseus' re-encounter with his son, Telemachus. This re-encounter serves three main purposes. First, it serves to portray Telemachus' likeness to his father in the virtues of prudence, humility, patience, and planning. Secondly, it is Odysseus' chance to teach his son to be as great a ruler as Odysseus himself is.
Athena arrives, disguised, and he invites her into his home by saying: "'Greetings, stranger! / Here in our house you'll find a royal welcome. / Have supper first, then tell us what you need'" (1.144-46). His address to Athena shows right away that he is an extremely hospitable character. Despite his house being overridden by the suitors, he is still welcoming of this stranger.
The act of xenia does not have to be carried out in some sort of extravagant way, but in the form of offering up the most simplest of things. People who are in need have always been around, and will also continue to be here; therefore, the means of hospitality should be spread. Throughout Greek culture, xenia has been a prominent method for those who are in need. Homer could obviously see the importance of hospitality since he put such emphasis on it in his works. This re-occurring theme has; however, lost some of its relevance through time, but can still be shared through small acts of kindness.
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.
Before we get to his adventures we learn about who he is. We can get to know him through his son, his wife, his homeland, his friends who knew him in battle, and the gods who like or dislike him. In Book I, we see Athena and her kindness towards Odysseus through her visiting Telemachos and making sure that Odysseus gets home safely. Athena visits Telemachos as a traveler/friend of the family and his him strength and permission to use his power over the household and the suitors that are taking advantage of him. This is Athena not only helping Telemachos, but also Odysseus' home.
And I will go, go all the way.” (II. 331-334) These adventures and journeys were not easy or safe but with the reassurance Telemachus receives from Athena allows him to commit to visiting Pylos and Sparta for news of his father. When confronted by his nurse, who plays a motherly role, he argues that “There is good behind this plan”. (II. 372) Overseas, Telemachus receives praise for his mannerisms which include well calculated speeches that resemblance Odysseus’, from Nestor and Menelaus, royal Greek legends who fought alongside Odysseus.