Xenia in the Odyssey
The idea of visitor hospitality is very important in ancient Greece. Hospitality, or Xenia, is so necessary in Greek society that Zeus, in addition to being the king of the Gods, is also the God of tourists (Wikipedia). This produced an obligation for the host to be congenial to their guests, and conversely, the guests had their own responsibilities also. If either the host or the visitor was to break any guideline set by Xenia, there would be extreme charges dealt by Zeus and likewise by society (Wikipedia).
In The Odyssey, Xenia is a style which is shown consistently throughout the book: Nestor and Menelaos take in Telemakhos warmly as a visitor and Eumaios plays an exceptional host to Odysseus, while Odysseus is disguised as a roaming beggar. It is no mishap that Xenia is such an important style in The Odyssey, as it assists Homer present which characters he wanted to be “great.” Obviously, the same can be stated about the characters Homer wanted to be “bad” and there is no better example of this than the 108 young men jointly called the suitors.
The suitors were men from Ithaca who during Odysseus’ absence, started to court his other half, Penelope. Nevertheless, they did not wait on Penelope’s response in their own homes but rather, stayed at the palace as guests. Forcing Penelope to decide which one of them she was to wed, the suitors refused to leave the palace and spent their time slaughtering the sheep and fatted cattle coming from the estate in order to provide their great parties with food (Greek Folklore Link). There are 3 basic rules of Xenia: The regard from host to guest, the regard from guest to host, and the parting present from host to guest.
It is likewise important to know that the visitor should be courteous to his host and not be a burden (Wikipedia). The suitors, who were currently ill-portrayed by Homer with just some of their names (the lead suitor was named Antinoos, which literally indicates “No Mind”), were made more detestable through their actions as guests. Telemakhos, Odysseus’ child, was the head of the home throughout his dad’s lack and as such, should be respected by his guests as law dictates.
Nevertheless, the suitors did the worst thing a guest could do and, although fruitless, outlined to kill Telemakhos as they feared that he would return from his trip to Pylos and Sparta with news of Odysseus. This is perhaps the greatest offense of Xenia that a guest can perhaps commit and is punishable by death. In addition to overstaying their welcome and basically taking over the palace as their own, they likewise dealt with other visitors of the palace inadequately despite being visitors themselves. In Book XX, Odysseus went back to his palace camouflaged as a stranger when the suitors were enjoying among their banquets.
Odysseus went around collecting scraps from the suitors so that he would discover to differentiate the great from the bad amongst them. However, Odysseus’ examination was not appreciated by Antinoos, and rather of giving him food as the others had actually done, he threw a stool at Odysseus, and struck him on the back (Greek Folklore Link). Without knowing it, the suitors, through Antinoos’ actions, had actually attacked their host which was another crime punishable by death. Definitely, the suitors understood the effects of their actions.
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Otherwise, when Antinoos tossed the stool at Odysseus, the others would not fret that Zeus might be in the guise of the beggar. The suitors have been breaking the values of Xenia for so long that they knew it was a matter of time prior to they’re punished for their actions; it wasn’t simply breaking Odysseus however their actions were going against Zeus’ own decree. Understanding that their fate was unavoidable, they picked to continue with their behavior until Odysseus finally says, “Your last hour has actually come. You die in blood” (Fitzgerald 410), and eliminates every last one of them.
It’s apparent that Homer utilizes Xenia as a vehicle to reveal that the suitors have no redeeming qualities. Being males without klaos (honor and magnificence) or perhaps arete (virtue and human quality), the suitors were absurdity personified and represented the extremely worst in human nature for the readers of The Odyssey. Functions Mentioned 1. Homer (Translated by Fitzgerald, Robert). The Odyssey. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. 2. Wikipedia. “Xenia (Greek).” 4 Feb. 2008. 20 Feb. 2008 3. Greek Folklore Link. “Suitors of Penelope. “