Gift Giving in The Odyssey Essay

Gift Giving in The Odyssey Essay

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Gift Giving in The Odyssey

Everyone loves to receive gifts. For some it makes them feel special or important. In the Odyssey gift giving can be seen as sign of respect. Xenia, an important aspect to Homeric society, can be described as the guest-host relationship. It was of importance in Homeric society because it was something that could make or break the relationship you have with someone. Throughout the Odyssey xenia influences those who Odysseus comes into contact with impacting the plot of the story. Focusing on the theme of gifts and gift giving throughout the Odyssey I will support Odysseus assertion that gift giving was connected to respect with three specific examples.
The guest host relationship is discovered in a number of places throughout The Odyssey. The interactions Telemachus and Odysseus have with their hosts help use to understand what xenia is and what we should expect. Each occurrence shares elements of hospitality in common. They had in common things such as the ability to have a bath, the feast, the question of who the guest is, a gift for the guest and the assurance of transportation and protection. Gift giving and respect in Homeric society allows for peace between neighboring city-states of Ancient Greece. If you show respect to a traveler when you or if you ever have to go to their home you would expect the same treatment you had once given them.
The first example demonstrating the guest-host relationship is when Telemachus’s arrives at the palace of King Nestor. Telemachus arrives at Plyos while Nestor is having a feast. He is welcomed by them, and participates in the feast. King Nestor gives him excellent treatment that we would expect. Nestor says “Now’s the time, now they’ve enjoyed their meal,...


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...heep away in hopes of receiving some type of gift. However, Polyphemus coming from a degenerate society is not use to these customs. I believe because the guest-host relation was not present here the relationship between it and respect was also not there.
The signs of xenia overall in The Odyssey helped me to understand who the protagonists and who were the antagonists in the story. Those who were considered having respect immediately took Odysseus or his son Telemachus into their homes and fed them. None of the antagonists in the story exhibited any form of respect towards Odysseus. Those of ancient Greek society that were of higher social class gave the best food and most expensive parting gifts. Giving good hospitality was an important thing in Ancient Greece because they did it to please the gods; they never know when they were in the presence of the gods.


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