The Importance Of Xenia In The Odyssey

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Xenia in the Odyssey There are many themes in the book The Odyssey by Homer. Xenia, or hospitality is one of the largest, most prominent themes throughout the book. Xenia is displayed in many instances throughout the novel, and the importance of xenia is emphasized by the actions of it, but also the violation of it. Xenia is seen in the very first book of the novel when Athena inspires the prince. Prince Telemachus welcomes Athena into the home, by saying “Greetings, stranger! Here in our house you’ll find a royal welcome. Have supper first, and then tell us what you need” (1.143, 144, 145). The hospitality is recognizable in Telemachus’ welcoming ways, and after Athena is welcomed in, Telemachus’ feast commences; “A maid brought water in …show more content…
Athena receives hospitality when visiting Prince Telemachus and tales of a large, rich feast ensue (1.174-179). Telemachus accepts xenia when visiting King Nestor in Plyos, in which he participates in the customary feast and is given a place to rest (3. 440-444). Odysseus was not the only one subject to hospitality; the idea of Greek xenia is that all who are in the domain of another are welcomed in. The idea that fuels xenia is the possibility of gods or goddesses traveling or roaming to a domestic or foreign area, and must be extended every kindness. No host would ever know if the guest being welcomed into their home was a god or not. Hospitality in Greek culture, and more specifically in The Odyssey, helps to shape the journey Odysseus goes on, and the interactions between guest and host make Homer’s story remarkable. As each character gives or is a recipient of xenia, it is recognized, and contributes to the movement of both the characters and the story. Odysseus’ journey would have resulted differently had it not been for the kindness and belief of xenia in the lands he …show more content…
One of the most significant, distinctive examples of the violation of xenia is Odysseus’ encounter with Polyphemus. After Polyphemus is an unsatisfactory host, Odysseus blinds him, which angers his father, who makes Odysseus’ journey home difficult (9. 427, 428). Another example of bad xenia would be when the suitors impose on Odysseus’ home and attempt to take Penelope’s hand in marriage (22. 20). Hospitality is emphasized greatly throughout the book, when guests dishonor xenia, there are often consequences. When Polyphemus is not a good host, he ends up blind; when suitors cross Odysseus vying for Penelope, they end up dead (9.27, 428, 22. 20). It is apparent that those who do not practice good xenia in a positive guest-host relationship must face the consequences. Hospitality is a universal understanding in Greek culture according to The Odyssey. Wherever Odysseus went on his journey to Ithica, there was always a kind host who opened their home, or kitchen to him. In each location along Odysseus’ journey, the emphasis and conspicuous mentioning of the host’s hospitality is noted. The significance of xenia is especially prominent when it is

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