Importance Of Xenia In The Odyssey

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Xenia is an Ancient Greek religious custom which captures the essence of the guest-host relationship. It is a sacred, religious law that may lead to severe punishment by the Greek God, Zeus, if not abided by. However, xenia may do more harm than good in some cases, plenty of which presents itself in the Odyssey. Xenia is a process and has to do with hospitality and mutual respect between a guest and a host. This is an extremely civilised practice placed in such a chaotic and barbaric age. It starts with the guest seeking lodging in a home fitting to his social-standing in society. No person should refuse a guest. Guests and hosts were expected to respect each other and were not allowed to hurl insults at each other. It was considered extremely rude to question the guest until the point of guest comfort was reached. The guest cannot make demands and the host is expected to treat the guest as well as he possibly can. In addition to this, the guest is under the host’s protection for the duration of the stay. The interchanging of gifts was also customary. Other practices included feeding, bathing, clothing and entertaining the guest, thus basically ensuring he or she is totally comfortable. The guest also had responsibilities such as not overstaying his welcome, providing entertainment and to avoid offending the host.…show more content…
The Trojan war, in fact, started with the disregarding of Xenia. Helen of Troy, also known as Helen of Sparta. was kidnapped by Paris. This is an example of xenia gone horribly wrong. There are many examples like these in The Odyssey. An example of “good” xenia would be the guest-host friendship between Menelaus and Telemachus. This guest-host relationship would be considered the ‘ideal’ in Ancient Greece. Examples of ‘bad’ xenia would be the relations between Polyphemus and Odyssues and the Suitors in Odysseus’

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