Hospitality in the Odyssey

Decent Essays
Jacqueline Medina World Humanities Professor Brown March 13, 2011 Hospitality: Good or Bad? Hospitality as a theme in any literary work may not seem note-worthy. However, in Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, it becomes fundamental to the telling of the story. In addition to hospitality in The Odyssey, the question of is it given out of fear of retribution from the gods or out of true generosity, is raised. What is also shown is the form of which it comes in, whether it be unwanted, given too much or taken advantage of. Homer illustrates the theme of hospitality through the actions of Menelaus, the Phaeacians, Nestor, Eumaious and the suitors. Early in, we are shown Telemakhos' hospitality when Athena comes to him disguised…show more content…
In Book 14, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, approaches his old and faithful servant, the swineherd, Eumaious. As Eumaious is not rich, and does not have the treasures and wealth that other grand people possess, all he can offer is what he has. In this case it is bread and a small amount of wine. "You must eat something, drink some wine and tell me where you are from and the hard times you've seen" (Book XIV, 54-55). Eumaious also says, "Tush, friend, / rudeness to a stranger is not decency, / poor though he may be, poorer than you. / All wanderers and beggars come from Zeus. What we can give is slight but well meant..all we dare..." (Book XIV, 66-71). Its not the amount and quality of the foods, but the amount you can afford to give, and whatever you give is still important. Odysseus is grateful for his good manners, and says "May Zeus and all the gods give you your heart's desire/ for taking me in so kindly, friend" (Book XIV, 62-63). Hospitality can be explored through the rich and through the poor, it doesn’t matter about the amount given to a guest, but by the way and quality in which they receive it. However, throughout these differences, one common expectation of these cultures remains the same: that you must be hospitable. Uncivilized hosts make their visitors and guests feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Hospitable hosts are viewed as friendly and civilized. Book Seven, Odysseus enters the land of the Phaeacians, and comes upon
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