Xenia in the Odyssey

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Social Customs Xenia Xenia is the Greek word for "foreign" or "strange"/"stranger", or of foreign origin. Hospitality, is philoxenia in Greek; the word "philos" meaning "friend" and the word "xenia" meaning "stranger", thus "friend of the stranger". It is often translated as "guest-friendship" because the rituals of hospitality created and expressed a relationship between guest and host. During that time, beggars or travellers often knocked on the strangers’ door in hopes of finding a place where they could stay for the night. There are specific steps for proper hospitality; first of all, the host will offer a bath to the guest, done by a woman or a servant, then food will be given to the guest. After the food is served, the beggar is asked who is and where he is from and stories are exchanged. Next, the guest is offered a bed to sleep on and it is understood that they can stay overnight and at the most, another night. Xenia is a major theme in The Odyssey. In the epic poem, we keep reading about how every time there is a guest in a household, the owner of the house, which is the host, is usually following these rules when they greet their guest. For example, the way the Phaeacians welcomed Odysseus to their house. They gave him food and a bath, offered him a place to sleep in and only then they questioned him about his life back home, although they knew of his name and where he is from. He then shared his story about his journey form Troy, which is something that is often seen in the Odyssey; exchanging stories is part of xenia and counts as a gift. An example of good xenia happening in the epic movie is when the suitors come to Odysseus’ house and Penelope and Telemachus follow the xenia rules; give them food, baths and a place to sleep. When Telemachus doesn’t want to keep the suitors in his house anymore and wants to go against the xenia rules, Penelope
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