The Importance Of Hospitality In Odyssey

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Hospitality played a major role in helping Telémakhos find information about the whereabouts of his father. Likewise, Odysseus wouldn't have even reached his homeland without the various hospitable people he encountered on his journey home.

Hospitality was offered in the forms of shelter, food, clothes, transport, and entertainment for both Odysseus and his son, Telémakhos. In his search for finding about the status of his father, Telémakhos and his men encountered the hospitable Nester at Pylos. Nestor fed the visitors as soon as they reached his land, and he didn't even know who Telémakhos was until after their appetites were satisfied. In addition to food and shelter, Nestor offered Telémakhos his sons and horses for transport to Meneláos. Meneláos offered even more. Although he was having weddings for his son and daughter, Meneláos took in Telémakhos and his men and fed, bathed, and entertained them before asking who they were.

To add to his hospitality, Meneláos gave material possessions such as gifts to Telémakhos to take back home. Both, Nestor and Meneláos, provided Telémakhos information about his father, while accommodating him.

Hospitality has its limits, however, and being excessively hospitable can prevent a guest from his aims. For example, the following was stated by Meneláos when Telémakhos decided to leave: "I'd think myself or any other host as ill-mannered for over-friendliness as for hostility.

Measure is best in everything. To send a guest packing, or cling to him when he's in haste - one sin equals the other. Good entertaining ends with no detaining." Basically Meneláos says that sending a guest away or keeping a guest when he wants to leave are both equal/balanced, and wrong.

Odysseus received nearly twice as much hospitality from various people who aided him in his journey home. Odysseus and his men first received some help from the goddess Kirkés. She bathed, fed, and took care of Odysseus and his numerous men for over a year. Then, he was received and fed well by Alkinoos, and not questioned about his name or where he came from for 2 days. Alkinoos offered Odysseus a ship ride home, and gave him gifts of gold and jewelry. Alkinoos' hospitality with gift giving was parallel to that of Meneláos. Once Odysseus reached his homeland, he was taken in by Eumaios, the swineherd. Eumaios offered Odysseus unconditional hospitality and respect. He offered to allow Odysseus to stay with him until Telémakhos arrived. Even at his home, Odysseus was received well by Telemakhos. It was because of that reason that he was able to plan and execute the killing of the suitors.

Not being hospitable to strangers is looked down upon.

The suitors sealed their fates with the gods because they lacked hospitality for the unknown beggar (Odysseus in disguise).

My mother believes that it is wrong to have a guest leave without being properly fed. She still feeds all guests until they can't take anymore. Times and the extents of hospitality have changed over the years, however. The days of welcoming and being hospitable to strangers in our homes is nearly gone. Now people only want to know why you are visiting and what they can do for you.