Greek mythological stories contain many entertaining features: terrible monsters-Medusa and Hydra-, adventurous heroes-Perseus and Hercules-, and amazing gods-Zeus and Athena-. In addition to entertaining the reader, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology contains many Greek values and morals that can educate the reader. Many scholars study these values to learn more about the ancient Greek culture. One particular value shown throughout Greek myths is hospitality.
A great show of hospitality is when a Greek was taken in to one’s home to live with them as part of their family. The best example of this is when the old fisherman, Dictys, discovered a chest containing Danaë and Perseus and took them home to live with him and his wife. “They had no children and they cared for Danaë and Perseus as if they were their own” (148). Without this show of hospitality, Danaë and Perseus may not have survived. Also, without this show of cordiality Perseus would not have been able to become the hero he is and accomplish the great tasks he completed throughout his life. Another example of one’s being taken in occurs in the story of Demeter. Demeter, disguised as a poor aged woman because of the misery of her daughter’s kidnapping, was found by four lovely maidens, who after talking to their mother, Metaneira, took Demeter in with them. Here Demeter was given food and a house to live in. This hospitality helped Demeter to cope with the abduction of her daughter, Persephone because it not only allowed her to nurse the child, Demophoön, but also to interact with other people. These two myths show how much hospitality was a significant part of Greek culture.
Many Greek heroes were aided by strangers while on their journeys. A good example of this form of hospitality is when Telemachus stays with Menelaus on his quest to find news regarding his father, Odysseus. Here Menelaus held a splendid banquet and gave Telemachus the information he was asking for (216). Telemachus was then given a bed to sleep and spent the night in the beautiful house. Another example also from the Odyssey is when Odysseus stays with the Phaeacians. “Here the King raised him and bade hum sit at table and take his fill if food and drink without fear. He could rest assured that they would arrange to send home in one of their ships” (220). The Phaeacians indeed sent Odysseus home and ended his terrible journey. Other heroes such as, Perseus, were also given hospitality while on their journeys. Perseus came to gathering place of the Hyperboreans while on his journey to kill the gorgon, Medusa. “They showed him great kindness: they welcomed him to their feast, and maidens dancing to the sound of the flute and lyre paused to get for him the gifts he sought” (151). With the help of the Hyperboreans, Perseus was able to then pursue his quest. With the help of the hospitality of others in these examples, the heroes were able to attack their goals with a better mentality.
In conclusion, hospitality is a very important trait because it represents the characteristics of a moral Greek. In ancient Greece, a stranger that comes upon a house would be welcomed in and given food to eat. Today, however, a stranger comes upon a house and is sent away. The main differences of hospitality in Greek time than in modern day are modern day people show no hospitality.
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