Examine the beliefs* held by one or more characters in a classical literary text.
In your answer:
• Examine the beliefs of a prominent character(s) in your chosen text.
• Draw developed conclusions about the impact these beliefs have on your chosen character(s) and other characters in the text. * Beliefs may be political, or religious, or social, or cultural
Xenia The ancient Greeks had many morals and beliefs which stood as the core of their society and were a huge influence on how it functioned as a whole. One of the most common morals was xenia. Xenia is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guestfriendship. The rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host expressed in both material benefits (such as the giving of gifts to each party) as well as nonmaterial ones (such as protection, shelter, favors, or certain normative rights). Xenia is portrayed in Homer’s
, a famous epic poem believed to have been in the 8th century
BC, and is the sequel to the other work attributed to Homer, the
The poem mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of
Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the tenyear Trojan War. In his absence, it is assumed he has died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors, the Mnesteres or Proci, who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage, all the while enjoying the hospitality of Odysseus' household and eating up his wealth.
Odysseus' name means "trouble" in Greek, referring to both the giving and receiving of trouble—as is often the case in his wanderings. An early example of this is the boar hunt that gave Odysseus the scar by which Eurycleia recognizes him; Odysseus is injured by the boar and responds by killing it. Odysseus' heroic trait is his mētis, or "cunning intelligence": he is often described as the "Peer of Zeus in Counsel". This intelligence is most often manifested by his use of disguise and deceptive speech. His disguises take forms both physical, by altering his appearance, and verbal, such as telling the Cyclops Polyphemus that his name is "Nobody", then escaping after blinding Polyphemus. When asked by other Cyclopes why he is screaming,
Polyphemus replies that "Nobody" is hurting him, so the others assume that, "If alone as you are
[Polyphemus] none uses violence on you, why, there is no avoiding the sickness sent by great
Zeus; so you had better pray to your father, the lord Poseidon". The most evident flaw that
Odysseus sports is that of his arrogance and his pride. As he sails away from the island of the
Cyclopes, he shouts his name and boasts that nobody can defeat the "Great Odysseus". The
Cyclops then throws the top half of a mountain at him and prays to his father, Poseidon, saying that Odysseus has blinded him. This enrages Poseidon, causing the god to thwart Odysseus' homecoming for a very long time.
The Greek god Zeus is sometimes called Zeus Xenios in his role as a protector of travelers. He thus embodied the religious obligation to be hospitable to travelers. Theoxeny or theoxenia is a theme in Greek mythology in which humans demonstrate their virtue or piety by extending
hospitality to a humble stranger (xenos), who turns out to be a disguised deity (theos) with the capacity to bestow rewards. These stories caution mortals that any guest should be treated as if potentially a disguised divinity and help establish the idea of xenia as a fundamental Greek custom. The term theoxenia also covered entertaining among the gods themselves.
However, xenia alone is one of the most important themes in Homer's The Odyssey. Every household in the epic is