Xenia In The Odyssey Report

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Within Homer’s The Odyssey hospitality and relationships between the guest and host was a powerful tradition in Ancient Greek times, which built strong relationships and forged alliances. This guest-host relationship is known as xenia, a pinnacle of Greek society, and is a major theme throughout The Odyssey, and influences the plot of the story in very important ways. For many modern readers xenia is difficult to discern in terms of the guest-host relationship and how it is applied without clearly learning it. Fortunately, there are certain essentials of hospitality that are required for a guest to be properly welcomed and received. Additionally, these essential requirements of xenia aid in the development of the plot, particularly near the end of the epic when Odysseus discards his disguise as a guest in his own home and is there to reclaim and restore it. The custom of xenia was seen as a measure of who was civilized, as well as being a significant part of the religious aspect of the Greek’s lives. The Greeks believed that Zeus was the patron God of hospitality and honouring a guest was the same as honouring Zeus. They believed that failing to honour a guest would bring the wrath of the gods upon them. By portraying good xenia, many people were able to spread the fame of their house and improved their own statuses. Xenia is evident in many different incidents throughout The Odyssey. Most of the first half of the epic portrays Telemachus and Odysseus being welcomed as guests in a foreign land. As each interaction develops, they each share common features of hospitality. These features include the bath, the feast, the question of who the guest is, the guest-gift, and the promise of transport and protection. However, throughout T... ... middle of paper ... ... an understanding of what establishes the guest-host relationship helps one to recognise how significant the role of xenia is. Being a good host and offering hospitality would lead to the uncovering of a stranger’s identity, which is seen during Odysseus’ homecoming. This plays a major role in the epic due to the fact that Odysseus must reveal his identity to reclaim his home and rid it of the suitors that have moved into his palace. Due to Telemachus’ hospitality towards Odysseus when he is disguised as a beggar, Odysseus is able to take the necessary steps to secure his home, determine who should be punished and take up the bow used to kill those who defied him and his wife. Hospitality is essential in creating this vital moment within the epic and what it has been built up to. Xenia defined who a person truly was and helped Odysseus eventually make his way home.

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