Social Customs Essay - Classical Studies

Topics: Odyssey, Odysseus, Athena Pages: 4 (1308 words) Published: April 25, 2012
Social Customs Essay – Classical Studies

Guest friendship is the respect from host to guest. The host must be completely hospitable to the guest, but the guest must not be a burden to them. The practice of guest friendship (xenion) was important in Homeric society, as the ancient people believed that the gods mingled among them. The idea of performing poorly whilst hosting a god or goddess would make them incur the wrath of the deities. Using books one, six, nine and 19 in Homer’s The Odyssey, the idea of guest friendship will be illustrated in both the correct and incorrect way using specific examples and quotes. This is important in The Odyssey, as it is shown in many different contexts in the book, both good and bad, for example, the Suitors bad guest friendship to Telemachus and Penelope, or Nausicaa’s good guest friendship to Odysseus when he washes up on the beach of the Phaeachian people in Scherie. It is also important in that fact that many plot defining notions are established during actions of guest friendship, such as Athene the goddess of war disguising herself as a family friend to encourage Telemachus to search for his missing father Odysseus.

Guest friendship consists of three basic, but important rules, the first being respect from guest to host. The host must be welcoming and hospitable. The servants must relieve them of their gear, whether it be weapons or tools. They must then bring them wine and food, most commonly in the form of breads, oils and assorted meats. If required, the servants will also bathe the guest. Until the needs of the guest have been stated, it is impolite of the host to ask questions of them. The second rule is respect from the guest to the host. The guest must be thankful and courteous to their host and not make him or herself a burden or overstay their welcome. The third rule, to show the host’s honor of receiving the guest they must give them a parting gift.

In Book One of Homer’s The Odyssey there are two...
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