Essay about Greek Xenia in The Odyssey

Essay about Greek Xenia in The Odyssey

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All throughout The Odyssey there are scenes of good and bad xenia, or hospitality. It can be seen that hospitality is extremely important in the Greek culture, both how someone treats their guests and how the guests treat the host. A closer look chronologically into the good, then bad examples will show how one acts affects the actions that are brought upon them when they either follow or disobey Zeus' Law.
Right at the beginning of The Odyssey, the reader is shown the hospitality that Telemachus has. 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. When she is about to leave, he offers that she stay longer and wants to treat her with honor (1.352-60). Telemachus has no idea who Athena is, yet he still shows extreme generosity towards her. Telemachus is a perfect role model for xenia. Even though the suitors have been pushing him around for years, he still finds it in his heart to provide strangers a lovely experience when they visit him. It seems as though he has seen how terrible it is to be treated with bad xenia and he in turn wants to treat his guests the way that he hopes to be treated.
Other acts of hospitality are seen throughout The Odyssey. Telemachus has left on a journey to find out about his father and he comes across Nestor. Nestor shows multiple signs of good hospitality. When Telemachus first meets him, he gives everyone a feast before even asking who they are (3.76-79). Once Telemachus...


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...arent that the women are treated differently, along with those who are children of the gods, specifically the Cyclops. As stated before, the women were able to get away with wrongdoings. The Cyclops was able to get away with eating Odysseus's men and even managed getting Odysseus in trouble with the gods. Odysseus didn't display the best hospitality at moments, such as when he skewered the Cyclops's eye and then taunted him about it, but even he ended up being punished when he had acts of bad hospitality. Despite being the most hospitable group, the Phaeacians ended up being punished more than most. After their punishment, they change their ways and hope to appeal to the gods again. As it is Zeus' Law, and thereby the highest standing custom, every character in The Odyssey has a strong tie to xenia and it's effects on their lives and the lives of those around them.

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