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Reading The Odyssey by Homer is like entering a world infused by fantasy. Many important traits such as respect and hospitality are exemplified when read with a nonliteral mindset. Respect and hospitality is clearly seen in the real world. For obvious reasons, those traits are hammered into children’s minds to lead them to a good reputation. Although The Odyssey was written thousands of years ago, its characters demonstrate traits that aid a successful everyday life in the real world.
Respect is an important trait to have and many times throughout The Odyssey it is shown especially towards the gods. Respect for them determines your life after death. In The Odyssey, Homer expresses the respect Zeus has for Odysseus to Athena: “There is no mortal half so wise; no mortal / gave so much to the lords of the open sky’. Zeus showing the respect he has for Odysseus and the mindset that “he has his back” can relate to the real world. It is important to have “the backs” of others especially your family and friends. Watching out for each other is an example of the respect you have for that person. If failed to watch “the back” of others it can result in a punishment, just like when Odysseus’s crew travels to the land of Hyperion. When they expect to leave, a horrible wind stopped them. The crew realizes that they don’t have enough food and other supplies so they kill Hyperion’s cows despite the warning not to do so. This act is very disrespectful to Hyperion. So, he kills the crew. Odysseus realizes how important it is to respect the gods because if failed to, a punishment will be given. This obviously won’t happen in today’s world, but similarities can be made. For example, if citizens disrespect law enforcement, they will take action. The disrespectful citizen could be shot, tackled, incarcerated, etc. Therefore, we are taught to respect law enforcement so we can have a peaceful relationship with them.
Hospitality also is a key trait shown in The Odyssey. Greek culture witnesses the importance of the practice of hospitality in many ways which are significant to the poems. For example, after having escaped the Cyclops. Odysseus and his crew are in desperate need of a place to stay and someone to take care of them. So, when they arrive at Aiolia Island, they are “taken under the wing” of Aiolos Hippotadês for a month. As if that isn’t enough, Odysseus receives an ox-skin pouch with powerful winds. Whether Aiolos did this to annoy Poseidon or because he wants to be kind, he is showing true hospitality. Telemachos also demonstrates hospitality: [Telemachos] sees Athena and goes straight to the forecourt, the heart within him scandalize that a guest should still be standing at the doors. He stands beside her and takes her by the right hand, and relieves her of the bronze spear, and speaks to her and addresses her in winged words: ‘Welcome, stranger. You shall be entertained as a guest among us. Afterward, when you have tasted dinner, you shall tell us what your need is.’ […] he leads her and seats her in a chair, with a cloth to sit on, the chair splendid and elaborate. For her feet there was a footstool. For himself, he drew a painted bench next her, apart from the others, the suitors, for fear the guest, made uneasy by the uproar, might lose his appetite there among overbearing people. Telemachos shows his trait of hospitality because he immediately invites the guest into his home and treated her with very specific examples of hospitality. His generous acts of feeding and sheltering the stranger really show that he values hospitality. This trait, in real life, is important because kindness towards guests should always be a given; like it was in these examples. In real life, when having guests over they should always be prioritized, whether they were invited or unexpectedly stopped by. Punishments will not be given if hospitality is not given towards guests but it is always expected and appreciated by them. When in need of immediate hospitality and open doors by family or friends, it is possible that they will remember the inhospitality that was shown to them. It is important to maintain a good reputation of caring for others because the need of hospitality sometimes isn’t always planned.
The Odyssey shows that specific traits that were important in the 8th century are still seen as important today. This epic novel demonstrates what is expected out of people and what punishments could be given if specific traits aren’t lived up to.
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