2017-12-07 18:21:17 -0500 EST
Hospitality in the Odyssey
The introduction to Emily Wilson’s new translation of the Odyssey has a number of sections, each of which serve as mostly independent mini-essays on a particular aspect of the epic. I particularly enjoyed “Friends, Strangers, Guests,” the one about hospitality, or more properly xenia. Although it’s been a number of years since I last read the Odyssey, I recalled that hospitality was an important theme. This essay goes further, framing each episode in the poem as a case study of xenia, even to the extent that the monsters are monsters because eating their guests is a perverse reversal of hospitality.
(This topic reminds me of Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, which is itself a powerful case study on hospitality and the consequences of its violation.)