Rules of Xenia

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What do we learn about the rules of Supplication and Xenia from Homer’s Odyssey and the consequences of disobeying them? Following the proper rules of supplication and xenia was vital in the civilized society of ancient Greece. Through his works Homer teaches many lessons about what is correct and what isn’t when trying to follow the rules of supplication and xenia, and both people in ancient Greece people in modern day times can learn from the examples of supplication and xenia that homer gives in his books. Book 5 of Homer’s Odyssey gives us a very good example of xenia- the concept of hospitality. We get a very detailed account of how Circe applies the rules of xenia properly when welcoming Hermes into her home. ‘ The divine Calypso seated Hermes on a brightly polished chair, and asked him: “Hermes of the golden wand, what brings you here? You are an honored and welcomed guest, though in the past your visits have been few . . . But first follow me inside and let me offer you hospitality.”’ We can see that Calypso speaks gently to Hermes and with respect in order not to offend her guest, which was very important in the ancient world and even now. From past knowledge we know that it was proper not to ask questions of your guest but instead welcome him into the house. Here Calypso does not fully follow that rule and starts off talking to Hermes by asking a question. This tells us that the rules of xenia can be flexible and the reason behind Calypso’s questions is surprise as she did not expect a visit from Hermes and is purely curious about the reason behind it. Although Calypso starts off by asking a question she does not enforce an answer to it and in fact tells Hermes to answer it later as first she is obliged to show her hospitality. ‘The goddess now put some ambrosia on a table drew it to his side, and mixed a cup of red nectar. The Messenger, the giant
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