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The Role of Hospitality

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The Role of Hospitality

Hospitality plays a very big role in Greek life throughout The Odyssey. It was by this code of conduct that people were able to travel without the fear of being rejected and having nowhere to stay when they arrived at their destination or at a stage on their journey. A host never knew if the beggar on his/her doorstep was a god in disguise. Such paranoia and religious beliefs kept most of the characters in The Odyssey on their best behavior, but others had no manners to begin with. In Greek religion travelers were protected by the head god, Zeus. He was supposed to take care of them and keep them safe while they were away from home. They, in turn, were to act in an according manner. When welcomed into a house, one was supposed to be gracious and not demand more than the owner could give. His stay was not to impose too much of a burden on the household or the means of survival for that house. Rarely were visitors asked to leave, but if they were, the wishes of the hose were to be satisfied. If a traveler were courteous and not demanding, he was following the rules of hospitality laid down by the gods. Owners of a household would welcome anyone, whether it was a hero or just some poor beggar. But there were those who didn't welcome any guests in their home, and for that reason punished those who came into their home. The main point of discussion here is that one can be very gracious and hospitable but if it upsets a god in any way they could be punished or killed for it which should be wrong.

One of the most gracious showings of hospitality throughout The Odyssey was when Odysseus arrived at Alcinous's palace, the land of the Phaeacians. Alcinous and his men show Odysseus great generosity, supplying Odysseus with food and shelter, before learning who Odysseus is. Alcinous proves his generosity to Odysseus in that he is willing to send a convoy to escort Odysseus home. "I don't know who he is, but he has come in his wandering to my palace; he pleads for passage. So now let us press on and grant him escort" (Homer 192).

One of the worst showings of hospitality during the novel was when Odysseus and his men arrived on the island of the one-eyed giant known as the Cyclops. Odysseus and his men started off on the island by eating some of the wild goats that were there on the island. They then approach a cave that is filled with milk and cheese and is also filled with sheep. The men tell Odysseus to grab some of the food quickly and get out. After Odysseus decides to stay in the cave for a bit longer, the Cyclops arrives back to his cave. After lighting a fire the Cyclops sees Odysseus and his men in a dark corner. Odysseus and his men are taken captive by the Cyclops, who also eats some of Odysseus's men

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