Homer's Hospitality

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Mycenaean civilization was a golden age of splendour that arose during1600 BC. It was during this time that Ancient Greece began to take form, in both cultural and religious aspects. Historians often refer to this period as Mycenaean, but due to the culture and values embodied in Homer’s poem, The Odyssey, it is also known as the Homeric Age. In Homer’s world, society consisted of city-states controlled by well-respected Kings. The Homeric Age also focused on the importance of religion where all regions participated in sacrificial tributes to the Gods. Unlike today’s modern society, methods of travel were very limited in the 1600s. Mycenaeans’ relied on sea travel as their main way of transportation. Due to this, journeys were much more lengthy and dangerous; therefore, travellers depended on the hospitality of others during their long nights away from home. Hospitality, otherwise known as xenia, was the stranger-host relationship between members of different regions. In Homer’s The Odyssey, the poet shows that a character’s desire to be elite in society is what drives them to be hospitable. In particular, hospitality is shown to influence one’s social life through reputation, relationships and religion.

Hospitality was the means to gain social status in which one’s reputation was put under scrutiny. This can be seen in the poem as many characters depended on the hospitality of others during their journeys. In return for the food, shelter and protection that strangers were welcomed with, the hosts often gained a good reputation in the traveller’s stories. As traveller’s made their way from one place to another, they would retell stories of their experience at various places. Evidence of this hospitality is seen when Telemachos leaves for Pylos and is welcomed by Peisistratus, son of Nestor. Peisistratus, approaches the strangers and takes them “by both hands, and seat them at the feasting on soft rugs of fleece...and give them portions of the vitals,...
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