The Odyssey Xenia Analysis

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The Odyssey is one of two epic, Ancient Greek poems written by Homer, author of the first known literature of Europe. Believed to be a sequel to The Iliad, also written by Homer, it focuses on the Greek hero, Odysseus and his treacherous journey home after the events of the Trojan War. It takes Odysseus twenty years to return to his home, Ithaca. During this period, it is assumed that he has died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of suitors, willing to take Penelope’s hand in marriage. Two themes that are evident in The Odyssey are hospitality and religion (threskeia), which both play a significant part throughout the novel, giving modern readers an insight into the Homeric world and also form the morals and ethics…show more content…
Zeus, the King of the Greek gods, enforced this obligation to be courteous towards travellers, thus giving him the name Zeus Xenios. Xenia plays a significant role in The Odyssey, assisting Odysseus in finding his way home from Troy, although at times there is lack of it. It was believed that if xenia was not honoured, it would lead to punishment from Zeus. A clear example of this in The Odyssey is in regards to the suitors. With Odysseus having been away for 15 years, suitors show up to his palace seeking the hand of his wife, Penelope, for marriage. They impose themselves in the household, eating all the food and drinking all the wine, as well as insulting Telemachus, the host, and refusing to leave when Penelope did not want them there. Once Odysseus returns to Ithaca, disguised as a beggar, he is insulted and has a stool thrown by Eurymachus almost hit him. Following this, Penelope prays to Artemis, asking her to kill her, promptly leading to Odysseus asking Zeus to ‘show me a sign, a good omen voiced by someone awake indoors’, to which ‘Zeus in all his wisdom heard that prayer. He thundered at once’. This leads to a competition between the suitors to see who can shoot an arrow through twelve axes using Odysseus’ bow. None of the suitors succeed, but Odysseus does, revealing his identity.…show more content…
Hospitality, known as xenia, was much more prevalent in Homer’s time. There are a few possible reasons as to why this was so. Traveling in Ancient Greece was much more extensive and lengthy, with less advanced methods of transportation, such as by boat or by foot, being utilised, although they proved to be much slower methods than the modern forms we see today. As a result of this, there were many days spent away from home in many different locations, leading travelers to rely more on the hospitality of others for basic necessities, such as food and water, however payment for such hospitality was in the form of a gift. In Ancient Greece, there were some nations that did not allow foreign visitors to safely enter their territories. Without the concept of xenia, strangers could be captured, or at worse, killed for entering a foreign land. Xenia allowed people to safely travel into another territory and receive xenia from those people of the land. Most ancient Greeks did not show hospitality out of the kindness of their hearts, but through the belief that following the obligations of xenia would give them the approval of the gods (mainly Zeus, as he was the enforcer of the concept), whilst also following the belief that they would receive punishment from them if they turned away and did not provide hospitality for their visitor. Hospitality could have also been used to
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