The Odyssey

Xenia in Homer’s Odyssey: Episodes of Hospitality and Virtue 9th Grade

Living in a major American city, we have no trouble identifying that those in need are all around us. People ask for spare change on the subway so that they can get a meal; people hold cardboard signs that read, “Anything helps.” Throughout history, the less fortunate have always existed in society. It’s not their presence that’s changed, but instead our values as members of society. Of all the people asking for spare change or a token, how many do we walk past without giving a second thought? The expectations as a society for how we regard wayfarers and mendicants have changed greatly throughout time. Xenia in ancient Greek terminology refers to the set of customs and values revolving around hospitality. The ancient Greeks valued hospitality deeply, often offering much more than the bare minimum to those suffering or in need. However, Homer’s Odyssey emphasizes the presence and importance of hospitality in Ancient Greece by portraying it in contrasting manners. This theme is developed throughout the book. Instances of eminent hospitality and abuse/lack of hospitality are both significant to the development of the story’s plot and to the lessons it teaches.

In the beginning of the book, the suitors are introduced. These are men...

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