What is XENIA? Homeric Literature Explained

Video Transcript

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The ancient Greeks practiced xenia a
ritual of guest friendship this was a
set of rules that both the guest and the
host had to complete as a guest you
should be able to ask for hospitality
from anyone and be given it but you were
not to be a burden by overstaying your
welcome or committing any other crime
while under your houses care as a host
you should provide food drink comfort so
a bath necessary and bed and protection
in your household and you do not ask the
name or business of the guests until all
of the above has been provided both will
exchange guests gifts after the stay
worthy presents that link guests and
host families together such as objects
of value that they can say was given to
them by sowon thus
improve their standing in years to come
but why
Theo xenia what if your guests was of
God in disguise
how could you avoid punishment for
giving bad xenia Zeus takes the epithet
xenos when he is a patron of guests and
there are several stories where he
pretends to be a nobody and then reveals
himself as Zeus Almighty so giving
xenia to every guest becomes a
religious obligation to avoid punishment
from Zeus throughout ancient literature
primarily the Iliad and the Odyssey
there are lots of examples of good and
bad xenia good xenia the Phii syns
on December 7 & 8 they provide Odysseus
with bathing Nausicaa does that from an
the seashore then clothing as ago has
happened to be washing clothes she gives
him boat then food as well and then when
he finally arrives at the palace they
gave a banquet they give him games
comfortable place to lay his head and
they promise him a ride home back to
Ithaca the key moment of xenia they
provide his when Odysseus is crying at
Demodocus his song about Troy the King
Alcinous distracts him with games so
that his guest is not distraught you
Myers the swineherd and Odyssey book 14
and onwards when he meets Odysseus who
has been disguised as a began has not
revealed his true identity he so
provides him with safety food loyalty
and comfort the key moment of xenia
here is when he saves Odysseus from the
dogs before then serving him a rich meal
of meat which is splendid indeed from
The Iliad book six Diomedes and Glaucus
despite being on opposite sides they
stop fighting right in the middle of the
field of battle as they realize who the
other is and discuss the fact that their
lineage makes them guests friends they
exchange Armour right there on the
although Glaucus exchanges gold for
bronze which is apparently very very
so in general good xenia is rewarded by
the gods as in they won’t kill you now
for the bad xenia this is a lot of fun
paris he steals another man’s wife
whilst in that other man’s home thus
breaking xenia this is theft of
property and pride the outcome is Troy
Falls everyone dies and it’s all his
Antinous he’s also in the Odyssey he’s
one of the suitors
he has overstayed his welcome and
Odysseus his house while stirring
Penelope by eating all of Penelope’s
food and all
having interesting affairs with her
maids and also attempts to kill this is
his son Telemachus he then also throws a
stool at a beggar which is really
Odysseus that’s just not the dumb thing
the outcome is Odysseus gets his revenge
and the 10 of us gets a grisly death
finally in our list of examples is
the Cyclops from Odyssey book 9 he
willingly accepts gifts from Odysseus
and in return eats several of his men
the outcome is he gets a very hot poker
in the eye and is blinded so Bad’s Anya
that goes again to Zeus is hubris tick
and thus requires punishment so be nice

Video Description

Present in both the Odyssey and Iliad is the theme of xenia, or guest-friendship: a ritualized form of hospitality, presented in the text in the form of topoi (formulaic lists) that explain exactly how and what to do to both give and receive. Giving or receiving badly is… deadly.

GCSE and A Level students will find this video useful.
Find the original comic here: http://greekmythcomix.com/comic/xenia/
Read more Odyssey comics here: http://greekmythcomix.com/odyssey-comix/
Find more OCR GCSE Classical civilisation comics here: http://greekmythcomix.com/ocr-gcse-classical-civilisation-resource-list/

Author: dhobson