Xenia In The Odyssey

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Xenia, the Greek concept of Hospitality, was an ancient and powerful institution in Greece, which formed alliances and created relationships with people through and the guest host relationship. Xenia was more than just being polite to strangers. It was a custom that defined how the guest and the host would act. It is expected of the host to treat their guests with the utmost respect, hospitality, and warmth even when the guest is a complete stranger. An example of this is the Phaeacians, who let a wandering stranger (Odysseus) into the home and treat him with the utmost respect and hospitality. Another example of a Good host is Nestor. Telemachus arrives at Plyos while Nestor is holding a feast, and is welcomed by them, and joins in …show more content…
In the role of the guest, the suitors insult their host by outstaying their welcome, by making difficult demands on the house by drinking and eating up the kingdom's asset, and by attempting to kill Telemachus. Odysseus returns to Ithaca to find his estate in chaos. These are not the proper actions of a guest within the guest host relationship. They hound Penelope with entreaties to marry them and gifts so they will become the king of Ithaca. It is not polite to hound a woman who clearly does not want to marry, so this is another situation where the guest forget the rules of Xenia or simply don’t care. Odysseus gets angry and makes a plan to purge the suitors from his estate. He then proceeds to slaughter them. This is a bad thing for a host to do, because a host is supposed to protect his guests, therefore Odysseus is punished. After he has slaughtered all the suitors, he tells Penelope, "To be careful" because "as soon as the sun rises, everyone will hear about the men I have killed.” his punishment is that he has to go to his father's house and hide in fear for his life, for a short period of time, because the families of the suitors are honor-bound to kill him. In the Odyssey the guest host relationship is very important to well being of people. Homer, it seems, believes that if one of the two the guest or the host acts improperly then something bad will happen. Throughout the story, bad Xenia is punished and good Xenia brings rewards to those who offer it. It was religious, it was beneficial, and it distinguished the Greeks from their barbarian neighbors. The Odyssey as well as being an entertaining read reinforces the idea of the Greeks as a civil