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Honor And Dignity In Homer's The Odyssey

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Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, chronicles the homeward bound voyage of the main character, King Odysseus of Ithaca. After Trojan War which lasted ten years, Odysseus sets foot on another adventure, which also spans ten years, to return to Ithaca. Odysseus is gone from his home for a total twenty years, but upon his arrival back to Ithaca, he finds that his title has been defended by his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus, who have been awaiting his return this entire time. Odysseus and Penelope are meant to be a model couple, so people often argue about which of the two is more admirable. To be admirable is to have faced a struggle with honor and dignity. Although Odysseus has been on a terrible journey, he has not always reacted with honor and dignity like Penelope does. Penelope shows honor and dignity when she practices xenia, does not marry a suitor, and forgives Odysseus. In Greek society, xenia is a concept which dictates the relationship between the guest and the household. The household will clothe, feed, and room the guest, while the guest in return shows respect and gratefulness. Penelope continues to practice xenia, even though the suitors “bled [Odysseus’] house to death” by eating, drinking, and stealing, “ravished the serving women [and] wooed [her without consent]” (Homer 22.37-38). Even after an instance when the suitors “broke into uproar… / [and prayed] to lie besides her [and] share her bed]” (1.420-21) when she cried about Odysseus’ absence, Penelope stilled practiced xenia. When Odysseus returns, he…show more content…
However Odysseus, despite being a good man, does not display honor and dignity when he refuses to forgive the suitors, then slaughters them all, and has an affair with Calypso. Since Penelope can react to tough situations with grace and poise, she is more admirable than
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