Books and Movies Reviews

Hospitality In Odyssey

In the heroic culture of Ancient Greece, Zeus was the "king of the gods" and ruled over the "hospitality and the rights of guests and suppliants, the punishment of injustice…and the governance of the universe…"One of several values in the enforced by Zeus was hospitality.The principle of hospitality was so important that it could determine ones fate.In The Odyssey, this idea of hospitality is explored through the acts of Menelaus; more specifically, how it is used to exert moral control over the society.
In Book Four of The Odyssey, King Menelaus made it clear that all strangers were to be welcomed and treated as if they were his own. When Eteoneus asked the King if Prince Telemachus and Pisistratus should be invited in or turned away, he replied "…Just think of all the hospitality we enjoyed at the hands of other men before we made it home, and god save us from such hard treks in years to come…" This illustrated Zeus's favoritism toward those who were admirable hosts to their guests.For instance, Telemachus was favored by Zeus because he allowed the suitors to feast in his home despite the fact that they were rude.In King Menelaus's royal household, "…women had washed them, rubbed them down with oil and drawn warm fleece and shirts around their shoulders"…even the King himself "passed them a fat rich loin with his own hands, the choicest part, that he'd been served himself…" All these great things were done before the princes told of themselves.It was not until Queen Helen questioned the King that the Princes acknowledged themselves. After this acknowledgment, the Queen tells how she was courteous to King Odysseus during the Trojan battle.She told how she bathed him, rubbed him down with oil, and gave him clothes to wear just as King Menelaus did for the princes. This is also another form of hospitality.


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