The Odyssey: The Flaws Of Homeric Xenia

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The Flaws of Homeric Xenia
The Odyssey, written by Homer and translated by Robert Fagles, presented ancient Greece as a world filled with monsters, gods, and temptresses, all along side the mortal man. As a mortal man, Odysseus’ venture featured tremendous plight stemming from both immortals and mortals; however, Odysseus was able to overcome his extenuating circumstances aided by both Athena, and the concept of Xenia. As consequence, Xenia had an unequivocally positive impact on Odysseus as he ultimately would not have succeeded in his journey back home without the hospitality of strangers. Nonetheless, this essay will argue that while Xenia solidifies relationships between mortal men, it ultimately can be used as a tool of segregation between man and the mythical, as well as dehumanizing those of different cultures and religions. Xenia is the Homeric Greek concept of hospitality. It’s idiosyncratic features include the generosity and courtesy shown to travels from hosts. This interaction between guest and host creates a reciprocal relationship of respect between the two. Positive relations between traveler and hosts included a formulaic interaction consisting of a shared meal, a ‘guest-gift’ and a promise of protection. This salutary relationship is explored between the Phaeacians and Odysseus. As the weary traveler reaches Arete and Alcinous, the queen and king of the Phaeacians, Odysseus falls to his knees and cries, “‘Queen Arete, daughter of godlike King Rhexenor!

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