“Xenia is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy
shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship.” This concept includes the guest reciprocating the generosity and kindness to the host. In Homer’s The Odyssey the concept of Xenia is prominently shown throughout the story and used to both help and hinder the characters’ journeys. In most cases, the hospitality displayed between the characters mutually benefits both host and guest. There are times in the book where too much hospitality is shown and other times when the hospitality is lacking. In addition, the main character of the story, Odysseus, cleverly uses the hospitality shown to him throughout his journey home to his advantage.
In the Telemachy, the first four books of The Odyssey, hospitality is displayed when Telemachus visits Pylos and Sparta seeking information regarding Odysseus’ fate. While in Pylos, he stays with Nestor and Menelaos. They welcome him as a friend. This is how the ancient Greeks believed all people should act when a stranger graced their doorstep.. Nestor, an old friend of Odysseus, gives Telemachus information regarding Odysseus. When Telemachus then travels on to Sparta, he receives a warm welcome from the king and queen and learns that his father, Odysseus, is still alive. This gives Telemachus hope. Another example later in the story that finally results in Odysseus’ arrival home is the generosity and hospitality that the Phaeacians extend to him. After Odysseus tells the Phaeacians his story they sympathize with him and show him kindness. He is washed and given a new ship to continue sailing home.
An unfortunate example of Xenia not being reciproc...
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...le information about the suitors ravaging his home. Odysseus uses his disguise as a beggar once again to to secretly infiltrate his own home. With the help of Penelope’s hospitality toward “the beggar”, he surprises and slays all of the suitors.
The Greeks strongly believed in the idea of Xenia. As Telemachus states when he finds someone standing at the door of his home, “Greetings, stranger! Here in our house you’ll find a royal welcome. Have supper first, then tell us what you need.” (81) Throughout The Odyssey by Homer the Ancient Greek idea of Xenia is shown. This hospitality is both helpful and hindersome to the story’s characters. Many times, the level of hospitality and its reciprocity affects the outcome of the characters’ adventures. But in the end, the main character, Odysseus, uses it masterfully to make his way back to Ithaca and reclaim his home.
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