Relationships Between Guests and Hosts in Homer’s Odyssey -
Why Hospitality is So Important
The central theme in Homer’s Odyssey is the hospitality of Greeks. The poem is devoted to descriptions of feasting and gift giving by hosts. Hospitality is concerned with the relationship between guest and host, and focuses on the exchange of wealth, knowledge and accommodation. The Greeks’ hospitality serves numerous purposes such as pleasing the gods, pleasing guests, forming a good reputation and establishing bonds with other families and cities. This poem brings in the aspects of why hospitality is so important.
In ancient Greece the practice of hospitality is motivated by a desire to please the gods. The dinners and feasts are accompanied by offerings of libations to the gods. The guests and hosts make such offerings such as their best wines and meats to the Olympian gods and even the lesser of them, such as the nymphs. In Book III it depicts when Telemakhos arrives in Plyos he finds a feast in honor of Poseidon going on. They are in the process of offering sacrifices to the gods and Nestor welcomes Telemakhos and the goddess Athena to join them. “Friend, I must ask you to invoke Poseidon: you find us at this feast, kept in his honor. Make the appointed offering then, and pray, and give the honeyed winecup to your friend so he may do the same” (Fitzgerald 36). The guests prayed to Poseidon and make offerings of wine from a golden, two-handled cup. When Nestor realizes that the goddess Athena has visited his feast he in turns prepares an elaborate sacrifice. “O, Lady, hear me! Grant an illustrious name to me and to my children and my dear wife! A noble heifer shall be yours in sacrifice, one that no man has ever yoked or driven; my gift to you - her horns all sheathed in gold” (Fitzgerald 46). Nestor continues to show his devotion to the gods in detailed rituals and extravagant sacrifices. Throughout The Odyssey many such rituals and sacrifices...