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Theme Of Hospitality In Homer’s Odyssey Essay

Homer’s emphasis of good hospitality is visible throughout the entire book, but it is most clearly seen In Phaeacia. “Hearing that, Alcinous, poised in all his majesty, took the hand of the seasoned, worldly-wise Odysseus raised him up and sat him down in a burnished chair, displacing his own son… ” (Odyssey Book 7, Pg: 185, Line 190-205). Alcinous, clearly the good host, has given up his son’s seat for an unknown stranger, thus fulfilling the codes of hospitality. This shows that hospitality or a host-to-guest relationship was more important than a fatherto-son relationship in ancient Greece.

This quote also proves hospitality’s significance in Greek society. By accordingly following the rules of hospitality, Alcinous’s is characterized as a man who follows these rules of society, In other words, Homer is describing Alcinous as a civilized man. Generous hospitality in general seems to lead directly to a civilized character, “And about your convoy home, you rest assured: I have chosen the day and I decree it is tomorrow” (Odyssey Book 7, Pg: 189, Line 360-370). Alcinous is showing further hospitality by offering Odysseus the guest gift of a voyage home.

Alcinous’s empathetic gift further shows that he is a good host and, thus, a civilized man. Alcinous also showers Odysseus with gifts and even lets him sleep in one of his loyal beds after giving Odysseus a bath and a feast. However, besides being obeyed, the rules of hospitality are often times broken. On the other hand, the brutal, inhospitable actions of the Cyclops classify him as an uncivilized beast. “Lurching up, he lunged out with his hands toward my men and snatching two at once, rapping them on the ground he knocked them dead like pups… (Odyssey Book 9, Pg: 220, Line 320-330). The Cyclops is evidently disrespecting his guests and showing a lack of hospitality. The Cyclops blatantly and knowingly violates the hospitality rules set by society. “I’ll eat Nobody last of all his friends – I’ll eat the others first! That’s my gift to you! ” (Odyssey Book 9, Pg:223, Line 410-420). In this quote, the Cyclops further violates the rules of hospitality by mocking Odysseus and offering him a horrible guest gift.

The quote proves that the Cyclops is intentional disrespecting the rules of hospitality. Because the Cyclops breaks these rules on purpose, there is no excuse for such uncivilized actions, thus he is classified as uncivilized. However, the Cyclops’s uncivilized deeds do not go unpunished. “So we seized our stake with its fiery tip and bored it round and round in the giant’s eye… ” (Odyssey Book 9, Pg: 223, Line 430-440). This quote shows that, once the rules of hospitality are threatened or trampled entirely, the bad host is severely punished.

The host is no treated as an equal and can be tortured or killed at will, this strict regulation of Greek society shows the importance of hospitality and the way it organizes the lives of the Greeks. “Hospitality plays a major role in the Odyssey”. (Biggs, Cory, et al. ). From “the Odyssey,” it is evident threat uncivilized, or inhospitable, people are maltreated, while those who are hospitable, and thus civilized, are appreciated and respected. This concept creates a two-tier hierarchy with hospitable, civilized people on the top and their inhospitable, uncivilized counterparts on the bottom.

Thus, this idea of hospitality and its rules breaks up people into the two groups produced by society: civilized and uncivilized. This hierarchy is what organizes Greek society and influences the way one person may treat the next. All in all, hospitality is a crucial component of Greek society; it enriches the civilian’s relations with one another. However, while generous hospitality is respected and overall accepted, violating the rules of such hospitality is capital crime deserving of capital punishment.

Odysseus’s adventures on the open sea have proven that the quality of hospitality a host offers decides whether the host is hospitable or not. In Homer’s epic poem “the Odyssey,” the theme of hospitality for Odysseus’s journey is key theme. This can be seen in Odysseus’s interactions with the Phaeacins. Without hospitality, Odysseus’s journey home would have been nearly impossible. It is apparent how the gods are significant to the Odyssey. They make it the exciting, epic story that it is. Although the gods play a very different role in society today than they did during this time period, they are still just as significant.

Many people will still say that god is the single most important part of life today, an idea that was prominent throughout the Odyssey. I think that the story was meant to relate to the contemporary reader. The Odyssey has many lessons and teachings that help people in their everyday life. The one lesson that was shown the most throughout the Odyssey was that no matter what obstacle is met, as long as you continue to try your hardest to achieve your main goal you will eventually find the right path.

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