The Important Role Of Hospitality In Homer's Odyssey

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Hospitality and kindness played a major role in Greek society and this is clear throughout Homer’s writing. In his epic, The Odyssey, Homer creates two groups, those who are kind and hospitable, and those who are not. Those who are hospitable are respected and thought highly off, while those who violate the laws of kindness eventually end up punished. During his long and treacherous journey back home to Ithica, Odysseus experiences many forms of hospitality. Some of these shows of hospitality are need and generous, while others are not. Every show of hospitality exposes the host for who they really are. The people who help Odysseus along his journey allow him to come into their home and eat and drink until he is rested and well content. Those…show more content…
Homer opens with Penelope, Odysseus wife and their son, Telemachus showing hospitality to Penelope’s suitors. Despite this kindness, the suitors began overrunning their home, eating all their food, and drinking everything as if it was their own. This type of hospitality was expected, however. No one was turned away and beggars were considered to be from Zeus, sent to test the host. Telemachus finally admits his irritation with the suitors’ misuse of the hosts’ hospitality “But if you decide it is more profitable and better/ to go on, eating up one man’s livelihood, without payment,/ then spoil my house” (I. 376-382). The suitors are surprised and upset with the disrespectful way Telemachus spoke to them. The suitors, no matter how upsetting their actions, consider themselves guests of Telemachus and his mother, which reveals that some believe even if one breaks the laws of hospitality and extends their stay long beyond their welcome, the host does not hold the right to ask them to leave. Additionally, when Telemachus informs the suitors that if they decide it is better to overextend their hospitality and ruin Telemachus and his mother, he will attempt to shame them. He knows that if they feel shame, everything will go back to normal and unknowingly, the suitors will restore the ethical principle of hospitality on Ithaca. Despite all that, Telemachus’ idea does not go over well with them. The suitors
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