Write a critical analysis in no more than 500 words on the following passage from Homer’s Odyssey:
Homer, Odyssey 1.130–154 (Lattimore, pp. 30–1, ‘… and he led her and seated … because they made him’).
I. This passage comes very early in the Telemachy and it is wholly descriptive. The first point of interest is the arrival of Athene to Telemachos’ home in Ithaca. Disguised as Mentes’, leader of the Taphians and an old friend of Odysseus. Telemachos is the first to greet Athene as it would appear all the servants are busy working for all of the suitors. The main part of the passage is Telemachos trying to offer traditional guest hospitality customs but also attempting to keep the guest from the overbearing, rowdy suitors “For himself, he drew a painted bench next her, apart from the others, the suitors, for fear the guest, made uneasy by the uproar, might lose his appetite there among the overbearing people” 1.131-35.
II. The first point to note is Telemachos clear effort to observe the hospitality customs to the best of his ability despite the mitigating circumstances of the suitors’ invasion of his home. He appears to be trying to lavish his guest with the best he has and what has been left to him, after the suitors’ abuse of his home and possessions “the chair splendid and elaborate”, “For himself, he drew a painted bench” 1.131 and 32. This is obvious here in what he offers his guest and what he takes for himself. Another example of the theme of hospitality we see is evident in these lines “golden pitcher”, “silver basin” and “polished table” 1.136 and 37. Only the finest for his guest. Now what has been clear leading up to this passage and the context of Book 1, is the encroachment of the suitors’. Telemachos does not want to make his guest uncomfortable, but concurrently has another motive for leading Athene/ Mentes’ away from the raucous of the suitors “and so he might also ask him about his father” 1.135. Even after 2o years of his...
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