Essay on Greek Hospitality in The Odyssey
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Greek Hospitality in The Odyssey
The Greeks have been known for their hospitality and politeness, especially when treating guests- whether strangers or not. This is demonstrated near the beginning of the Odyssey when Telemachus went to Pylos to visit Nestor. Nestor, not knowing who he was taking into his home as guests, treated them with great honor and respect. "Now is the time," he said, "for a few questions, now that our young guests have enjoyed their dinner. Who are you, strangers? Where are you sailing from, and where to, down the highways of sea water (p 299)?" If ever Greeks were to serve themselves before their guests or even a little better than them, then they were breaking the most basic of all Greek customs,…show more content…
The girls washed, fed, and clothed him. Impressed with his manliness, Nausicca told him how to get into town and appeal to her mother for even greater hospitality. Queen Arete and King Alcinous gave Odysseus the best of what they had and showed him great hospitality. The King also offered his daughter's hand in marriage, or if he desired, assistance in returning home. Nearest his throne the son whom he loved best, Laodamas, had long held place; now the king bade him rise and gave his shining chair to Lord Odysseus. A serving maid poured water for his havds from a gold pitcher into a silver bowl, and spead a polished table at his side; the mistress of provisions came with bread and other victuals, generous with her store. So lord Odysseus drank, and tasted supper (p 356).
The next day Alcinous also ordered a feast and an athletic contest to be held in honor of the stranger. If Odysseus did not receive the courtesy that the people of Scheria showed to him while he was at Scheria, there would have been a good chance for him not being able to make it back to his family and kingdom.
Odysseus was deceived a number of times by his assumption that he and his crew would be cared for with the same Greek hospitality and kindness they were accustomed to. One such example was when Odysseus landed on the island of Kyclops. After landing, Odysseus and twelve of his shipmates went into Kyclop's lair, expecting to
Hospitality In The Odyssey Essay
Hospitality is a way of life in a wide variety of cultures. The ways the people in different cultures act towards their guests may differ. Good hospitality is and was an important part of Greek tradition. In TheOdyssey there are examples of Xenia being followed and violated.
Xenia is shown time and again throughout The Odyssey. People open their homes up to whoever happens to stumble across them. Throughout their many journeys, both Odysseus and his son Telemachus were invited into many homes. There, they were bathed, fed, and waited upon until they were ready to set out on their own once again. These hosts that took strangers into their homes believed " its wrong to…send any strangers packing…every stranger and beggar comes from Zeus"(XIV: 64-66). Although some of these people did this out of the graciousness of their heart, the gods seemed to play a role in their reasoning also. The fear of the gods seemed to have a great influence on their actions towards their guests.
Once a guest was prepared to leave, the host usually sent gifts along with him. These gifts could be to help him for the remainder of his journey, or just as a token of his gratitude. The first example of gift giving is when Telemachus reaches the palace of King Nestor. When the son of Odysseus arrived to Nestor's kingdom he was given a royal treatment. Telemachus was fed and entertained by stories told by the king himself. Afterwards, he was provided with a place to stay for the night. In the morning, he was given another feast before he is ready to leave. When he was ready to leave, Nestor ordered his servants to "bring Telemachus horses, a good full-maned team"(III: 532-533). Along with the horses, inside the chariot, "a housekeeper stowed some bread and wine aboard and meats too, food fit for the sons of kings"(III: 537-538). Nestor provided all these things along with his son to escort them along their journey. The second example of gift giving is when Telemachus met King Menelaus. After being instructed by King Nestor, Telemachus set out to meet Menelaus. After Telemachus explained that he must leave, Menelaus offered him many gifts. Menelaus wished to give Telemachus "three stallions and a chariot burnished bright…and a gorgeous cup"(IV: 662-663). Telemachus regretfully declined these gifts for his own reasons. In exchange, Menelaus instead gave Telemachus " a mixing bowl…solid silver finished off with a lip of gold"(IV: 692-693). The third example is the gifts that the Phaeacians gave to Odysseus. After welcoming Odysseus into his palace and listening to his many tales, King Alcinous sent him on his way. He is not sent alone though. The Phaeacians took Odysseus on a great ship to his homeland of Ithaca. When they arrived to the shores of Ithaca, the Phaeacians "laid him down on the sand asleep"(XIII:...
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