Xenia and Hospitality in Homer’s epic The Odyssey

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“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, stoppin...

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...tors. Antinoos is angry when beggars come to the palace and he treats them poorly: “You breeder of pigs, why bring this fellow here? Are we not plagued enough with beggars, foragers and such rats? You find the company too slow at eating up your lord’s estate---- is that it? So you call this scarecrow in?” (XVII. 491-497). Antinoos shows no hospitality or sensitivity towards those less fortunate than himself proving his lack of knowledge towards Xenia. Finally, when Odysseus returns to Ithaka he makes sure he makes every last suitor pay for the trouble they have caused to his palace: “You yellow dogs you thought I’d ever make it home from the land of Troy. You took my house to plunder, twisted my maids to serve your beds. You dared bid for my wife while I was alive, contempt for what men say of you hereafter. Your last hour has come. You die in Blood.” (XXII 37-43)

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