Home » The Odyssey – how does Homer use a variety a settings to explore the theme of hospitality?

The Odyssey – how does Homer use a variety a settings to explore the theme of hospitality?

Throughout the book, The Odyssey, Homer uses a variety of settings to explore the theme of hospitality. Hospitality in the ancient world was very important. A visitor to a palace, would receive immediate hospitality, as the host can only presume they might be a God. Hospitality in The Odyssey included being bathed, rubbed with oils by beautiful maids, dressed in cloaks or tunics, feed lavish foods and appetizing wines. The host did not dare to ask any questions until the guest was fully satisfied. After the hospitality is shown, its then the host can ask questions.

The Odyssey embraces many exciting and thrilling journeys in which Odysseus and Telemachus visit advantaged and disadvantaged palaces. Homer shows good hospitality when Telemachus goes to Menelaus palace to seek news of his father, when Odysseus arrives on the land of the Phaecians, and also when in Eumaeus Hut. Homer also explores the theme of bad hospitality through Book 9 when Odysseus and his men go to the Cyclops whom does not give hospitality to strangers, and also when Odysseus goes to Circes house, whom which turns some of his men into pigs.

In Book 4, Telemachus visits the palace of Menelaus and Helen, only to find they are celebrating the weddings of his son and lovely daughter. Telemachus feels it is impolite to stay, as it is a family gathering. Menelaus graciously invites them in and orders his servant Eteoneus to unleash their horses and then bring the guests to join the feast. Throughout this book, Homer goes into great detail explaining every detail of Menelaus grand palace.

Homer tells the reader that Telemachus went and bathed in polished baths, and after the maids had washed them, rubbed them with oil and dressed them in thick cloaks and tunics, they took their places on chairs at the side of noble Menelaus, son of Atreusa carver served them with plates of various meats he had selected from his board, and put gold cups beside them. (Line 46-59 Book 4). The way in which Homer explores hospitality through the character Menelaus is very appealing. His is one of the most well mannered men in The Odyssey and is very well known for his good hospitality.

As Homer always uses the theme of hospitality in each of his books, Menelaus hospitality towards Telemachus would be one of the most memorable segments of the book. In book 6, after nineteen awful days and nights being carried by the wine dark sea, Odysseus is washed up on the land of the Phaecians, naked, only to be awoken by Nausicaa, Daughter of Alcinous, whom is at the river side with her maids. Homer uses this book to prove that hospitality is one of the most important themes.

As Nausicaa is stunned at the sight, she freezes as all the other girls/maids run off in every direction. She calls out to the girls for them to stop and asks them why they are off in such a hurry. Nausicaa says this is an unfortunate wanderer who has strayed here, and we must look after him, since all strangers and beggars come under the protection of Zeus, and to such people a small gift can mean much. So give him food and drinks, girls, and bathe him in the river where theres shelter from the wind. (Line 205-210 Book 6).

All the girls stood there, urging each other on, as they had not encounter a stranger from so far away, that had also been washed up on shore. Hospitality is very important, but out of the palace, where the maids are not in a normal environment, they become very nervous. All of the maids werent game enough to go near Odysseus, so instead he washed himself in the stream and rubbed oil into his skin. A tunic and cloak also lay near him for him to wear. Nausicaa proved good hospitality to a man; she had never met before, and out of the palace.

Homer explores hospitality out of the boundaries in this segment. He uses hospitality to introduce people, two people who have never seen each other before. This is very important and demonstrates that Homer not only uses the theme hospitality within the household, or palace of nobility, but also out in different environments. Homer also explores the theme of hospitality in Book 14, where Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, approaches his old and faithful servant, the swineherd, Eumaeus.

As Eumaeus is not rich, and does not have the treasures other grand people possess, all he can offer is what he has. In this case it is bread and a small amount of wine. When you have had all the bread and wine you want, you shall tell me where you come from and what your troubles are (Line 45-47 Book 14). Homer lets the reader know, that even if you are poor, and do not have enough goods to supply to guests, the amount that you give, is still equal to that of a rich mans. Its not the amount and quality of the foods, but the amount you can afford to give.

Eumaeus politeness and courtesy won Odysseus faith in him. Odysseus is grateful for his good manners, and says My good host, may Zeus and the other gods grant you your dearest wish for receiving me so kindly. (Line 53-54 Book 14). Homer really loved Eumaeus, the character he had created. Hospitality can be explored through the rich and through the poor, it doesnt matter about the amount given to a guest, but by the way they receive it. Although Homer explores the theme of hospitality in more good ways than bad, he also used bad hospitality frequently.

During Book 9, The Cyclops, Odysseus and his men go to the land of the Cyclops, a fierce, lawless people who never lift a hand to plant or plough but just leave everything to the immortal godsbut live in hollow caverns in the mountain heightsand nobody has the slightest interest in what his neighbor deicide. (Lines 106-116 Book 9). Homer explains this book in great detail, so the reader can picture every inch of the island. Odysseus, early morning, told his crew that he would go over to the island of the Cyclops, to see if they were aggressive, hospitable and/or god-fearing people.

Odysseus and his crew waited in the Cyclops cavern for the arrival of the giant. The Cyclops spied Odysseus and his men once he had lit a fire, and was astonished that there were strangers in his own home. Homer explores bad hospitality through the Cyclops, as the Cyclops began to ask questions regarding their where about and who they were, without offering any food and wine to the men. Odysseus being the egotistic and upfront man he is, said to the Cyclops that they were on the journey home from the Trojan War, and he also mentioned Zeus, and how he believes guests are sacred to him.

The Cyclops did not agree and told Odysseus and his men they all must be fools, the Cyclops care nothing for Zeus or nor the rest of the blessed gods. Homer uses these examples in the book to show that bad hospitality can be achieved by anyone, or anything. Another example of bad hospitality Homer explores is in Circes house, Book 10. During this book, some of Odysseus men go up to the goddess palace, to find out information. She invites them in like a hospitable person would, but then drugs all of the men, besides Eurylochus who was wise to stay outside, which turn by turn, magically changes them into pigs.

Homer again explores bad hospitality through the character of Circe, not only does she trick them into coming into her palace, she then drugs them, which a well-mannered person would not do. Brave Odysseus goes up to the house, but on his way, strikes Hermes, who gives Odysseus instructions on how to fool Circe in her own game. If good hospitality was shown throughout the arrival of the men at Circes house, the goddesss evil plan would not have gone into order, and the men would not have been turned into pigs.

Although Homer explores both good and bad hospitality through Circe, she is still an evil goddess and would do anything in her power to destroy man. As explained, Homer uses a variety of settings to explore the theme of hospitality. Both Telemachus and Odysseus visit many affluent and deprived palaces/homes on their travels. Good hospitality can be explored when Telemachus goes to Menelaus palace to get information about his father, when Odysseus washes ashore on the land of the Phaecians, and also when Odysseus goes to Eumaeus Hut.

Bad hospitality can be explored when Odysseus and his men go to the land of the Cyclops, and also when he visits Circes house. Although the settings contribute both good and bad points of hospitality throughout the Odyssey, the discovery of this theme is very important as it describes the nature of the hosts and hostesses whom enjoy the company of visitors. The Odyssey – how does Homer use a variety a settings to explore the theme of hospitality?

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