The Importance of Hospitality Illustrated in Homer's Odyssey

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Far removed from our individualistic society today is the ancient Greece portrayed in The Odyssey, by Homer, where hospitality and good will are the way of things. As decreed by Zeus himself, those who wish the favor of the Gods must welcome foreign and domestic with hospitality. A man was supposed to offer the best of his food, his home, and his knowledge before ever asking for his guest’s name or why he was there. There is a sense that those of high status are the main givers of hospitality, but they are not the only ones commanded to offer hospitality. 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. They have no regard for the xenos between Telemachus and themselves. Thus, they are portrayed as pathetic, dishonorable nobodies. On the other hand, Telemachus is portrayed as an honorary man by the way he conducts himself with Athena and what makes him all the more impressive is that Athena is disguised as the mortal Mentes, so Telemachus isn’t entertaining a Goddess, he’s inviting in a complete stranger and offering all that he has even with the nuisance of the suitors getting in the w... ... middle of paper ... ...evenge brings is a strong and unified one because Homer has made us all feel the same way. The more build up he creates, the more we all want one outcome… And that is the brilliance of Homer. He takes The Odyssey told in his day as an oral tradition and turns it into a masterful book that has meaning even into today. Homer believes that we should all be kind to our fellow man. In ancient Greece, that means being hospitable to whoever steps into your domain. Anyone who will show hospitality: Telemachus, Nestor, Menelaus, and Alcinous, is revered as a good man worthy of respect and honor, but those that cannot or will not respect xenos are subject to the vengeance that they receive: Aegisthus, Polyphemus, the Laestrygonians, and Circes. Homer wants us all to be hospitable in our lives and he uses Telemachus’ and Odysseus’ journeys in The Odyssey to show us this.

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