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Odysseus: Critical analysis

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  • Essay length: 1196 words
  • Submitted: 20/10/2004
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AS and A Level Classics

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Odysseus: Critical analysis

Throughout Homer's The Odyssey there is the motif of xenia, or zenophilia, the great ethical imperative, the obligation to entertain outsiders. It is the sacred Greek custom of hospitality. Mortals as well as gods have to adhere to it. Zeus, the most powerful of the Olympian gods, is the patron of this custom.

In Book 6, Princess Nausicaa, daughter of Alcinous, King of the Phaeacians, offers help and hospitality to Odysseus, who was washed ashore. "This man is an unfortunate wanderer who has strayed here, and we must look after him, since all strangers and beggars come under the protection of Zeus..." While Odysseus is enjoying the hospitality offered to him in the palace of Alcinous, he tells his hosts of his journey from Ogygia to Scherie. This offers (Homer) a clever way to cover past events, providing background information that bridges past to present, therefore allowing the action to progress and the characters evolve.

Odysseus' son Telemachus gives the goddess Athene the welcome that is traditional for guests and strangers. However, Athene comes in disguise, then "she assumed the appearance of a family friend, the Taphian chieftain Mentes" In return for his

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