Xenia in Ancient Greece

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Ann Pearson Persson 1
Mrs. Matone
English 9-H
4 March 2013
In The Odyssey, Homer suggests that xenia is a very important feature of ancient Greece. Xenia is a kind of code of moral conduct for hospitality. For example, In The Odyssey there are times when reciprocation is given when traveling. Furthermore, the Greek people show xenia because Zeus demands hospitality from humans. Lastly there are many times when hospitality is shown to strangers even though the hosts do not know the travelers.

Reciprocation is given to strangers in hopes that when the hosts are travelers the favor will be returned. To begin with, Menelaus welcomes the travelers and has the gatekeepers groom and unhitch their horses, saying to his servants, “Lead our new guests into our house to share in our feast”.(91) This shows that he is a genuine person and will treat them with hospitality as long as they stay. Furthermore, Athena advises young Telemachus to take a ship with faithful men and journey to Pylos. Phronius, a crew mate asks his father for the ship they will later use. Meanwhile, Athena disguised as Telemachus goes by night and selects the best men for the crew.

Zeus, the god of xenia demands hospitality from the people. If people do not show xenia towards others he reprimands them for doing so. As a result, the suitors waiting to wed Penelope go against the laws of xenia by not respecting the host’s belongings. As a suitor says in The Odyssey, “The laws of hospitality

Persson 2
now. Lets not be forgetting them… One has to be careful how one abuses his obligations”.(58) Telemachus abides to the laws of xenia and continues to treat the suitors with hospitality. Although, for Menelaus, Zeus helpfully guides his ship to a man that...
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