Why is Xenia such a crucial theme in the Odyssey? Explain your views and support them with details from the poem. (45 marks) The idea of visitor hospitality was exceptionally crucial in ancient Greece. Proof that Xenia was integral to Greek society can be found in the reality that Zeus, the king of the Gods, was also depicted as the God of Xenia.
Xenia created a responsibility for the host to be hospitable to their guests, and on the other hand, the visitors had their own obligations too. If either the host or the guest was to break a Xenia guideline, there would be severe charges dealt by Zeus and also by society.
Some fundamental Xenia rules were that the visitor might not insult the host, make demands, or refuse xenia. Additionally, the host could not insult the guest, stop working to protect the visitor, or stop working to be as hospitable as possible. It was also customary for gifts to be offered to the guest, or for a present exchange to be conducted in between guest-friends. The host-guest relationship was extremely made complex and placed equivalent problem on both. This custom of xenia also held a concern of trust, where both the visitor and host would have to depend on custom-made in concerns to personal safety.
This trust was strengthened by both worry of word getting out that the host had offered incorrect xenia, and fear of retribution by the gods, because one never understood when a traveller might in fact be a god in camouflage (for example, in book 1 when Athene disguises herself as Mentes and gets hospitality from Telemachus), pertained to check the level of your xenia. All travellers were seen as sent out by Zeus and under his defense, so offering appropriate xenia was also a method of showing respect for the gods, particularly Zeus in the type of Xenios. Xenia offers an ethical ground in the Odyssey.
Greek religious beliefs did not have rigorous ethical policies like modern-day Catholicism etc, and the Gods possessed a level of humanity and humility (for instance, they had flaws, such as Achilles heel). Xenia imposed ethical policies in ancient Greece. It also allows Homer to convey whether characters are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, characters that reveal bad Xenia are practically represented as amoral. An example of bad Xenia in the Odyssey is Penelope’s Suitors. The suitors take and plunder Odysseus’ hall, delight in his food, take his maids to bed and all the while, each attempting to take Penelope’s hand in marriage.
When Odysseus returns, he knows everything about the suitors, and schematically eliminates all of them without any mercy. As the suitors showed bad Xenia, Odysseus is thought about brave for eliminating them. This is likewise an example of retribution for bad Xenia. Homer likewise uses Xenia as a literary gadget in the Odyssey. Without Xenia, much of the plot would be invalidated; Xenia customs discuss lots of occasions in the Odyssey. For instance, Xenia discusses why Penelope and Telemachus didn’t just ask the suitors to leave instead of bearing with them.
Xenia also explains why, throughout the fight of Troy, Glaucus and Diomedes decline to eliminate: they find their forefathers had a Xenia bond. Taking a trip in Homer’s time was far more comprehensive and lengthier than in modern times. The less sophisticated methods of transportation used in Homeric times, such as by boat or by foot, were much slower than modern kinds of transportation. Since of this, a lot more nights were spent away from home in many different locations. Also, there were not hotels or inns where visitors might pay and stay the night.
Even if there were, visitors most likely could not pay for to spend for every night they were gone. Because of this, travellers had to count on the hospitality of others for shelter, food, and security. Without Xenia, Odysseus would not have had the ability to return home to Penelope. Xenia was likewise a universal method for Homer to mention character’s status and wealth in the Odyssey. As it was discredited for aristocrats to take part in trade or commerce, Xenia was among the only methods for Homeric heroes to get wealth. All hosts are obligated to provide their visitors with the best food, lodging and convenience they can.
For example, Menelaus’ visitors are offered water from a golden jug into a silver basin and white wine served in golden cups. The xenia presents characters provide are likewise a declaration of wealth, along with a method of getting wealth, for example, when Telemachus gets a silver krater, a wedding dress, a golden cup and other intricate gifts from his remain in Sparta. In the Odyssey, Xenia is likewise revealed to be one of the hallmarks of a civilised society, permitting us to judge the societies that Odysseus check outs by their attitudes to xenia.
For instance, the Cyclopes are well notified about Xenia, yet overlook it due to the fact that they have no worry of the God’s retribution. This tells us that the Cyclopes live in a formidable and amoral society. Even the Gods are shown to regard Xenia rules, for example in Book 5 when Calypso provides hospitality to Hermes. Good xenia is shown to have good effects for both the guest and the host: for instance, Odysseus’ remain on the island of Calypso, where he is consulted with remarkable hospitality. Odysseus got this hospitality well and continued to please Calypso.
Only at the end did he ever attempt to decline her hospitality and leave, and even this triggered no major issues. Here we have an example of the guest-host relationship working well. Calypso is supplied with a buddy, even if it was not long-term, and Odysseus was provided with shelter, arrangements, and protection for his men. In the end it proves to be a helpful scenario for them both. Xenia also provides a system of retribution in the Odyssey. Those shown to neglect the guidelines of Xenia typically satisfy violent ends, and in turn, those shown to reveal good Xenia profit of this.
An example of retribution for bad Xenia is when the Cyclops decides to eat rather than welcome Odysseus and his crew, and the guys respond by poking his eye out. This event does not bother the gods at all. The father of the Cyclops, Poseidon, is only upset by the occasion due to the fact that it was his son who was hurt. Zeus even praises Odysseus after the occasion by claiming that, “There is no mortal half so sensible” (Homer, p. 3). This declaration proves that violence was an appropriate response when a host was not thoughtful. It also demonstrates how the Gods justified violence as an outcome of bad Xenia.
Overall, Xenia is a majorly important theme in the Odyssey. Not just is it utilized as a literary device by Homer, as it provides a description for numerous aspects of the plot and supplies the poem with continuity in addition to a method for Homer to represent characters as heroes and villains. Xenia also tells us a lot about ancient Greek society, as it supplied a moral grounding and enabled visitors to go from location to location. Examples of Xenia in the Odyssey allow us to evaluate which characters are rich, well-known, great, bad, monstrous and wicked.