Books and Movies Reviews

The Odyssey: Illustrates the Codes of Behavior

Homer's Odyssey clearly illustrates the codes of behavior to which society was expected to adhere.Throughout the text, the fates of characters are driven by their ability to adhere to the codes.Those who do not adhere, such as Aegisthus whose story is related in Book I (lines 30-43) and again in Books III and IV, or the suitors when they ultimately meet their fate, are punished severely and these consequences are illustrated clearly.
One of the most prominent codes illustrated in thefirst six books is with regards to giving kindness to strangers.This is evidenced in Book I (100-150) in Telemachus' greeting of Mentes, who is Athena in disguise.The code of behavior dictates that strangers should be received with kindness and an open home.They should be offered food, drink and restfirst, before the discussion of business.As Menelaus addresses Telemachus and Peisistratus (Book IV, 60) "Help yourselves, enjoy your food.And once you've had your meal, we'll ask who you are."Further, as Mentes is leaving, Telemachus offers his home.Mentes responds by saying he must leave, but mentions the giving of a gift.A stranger therefore should be offered limitless hospitality, and a gift upon departing.For the stranger's part, they should not take advantage of the offer of limitless hospitality.
This passage is followed immediately by a section where Telemachus tells Mentes about the rudeness of the suitors, to illustrate poor behavior in contrast to his own.Telemachus' visits to Pylos and Spartafurther exemplify the requirement of kindness to strangers in the respective kings' reception of him, in particular Menelaus' stern rebuke of Eteonus for suggesting that they turn Telemachus' crew away on account of their already being preoccupied with a wedding feast.As many of the strangers in the Odyssey are gods or nobles, the lesson is that you should be kind of e…

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