When Odysseus returned home after twenty long years on the road, he found his home full of suitors who did not want to return home. The suitors violated the institution of hospitality and by doing so removed themselves from the protection they were afforded from Zeus Xenios and were punished by Odysseus. Yet, in the Odyssey they are not the only ones to do so. When Odysseus and his men enter the Cyclops Polyphemus’ cave uninvited and then attack him they are committing the same crime as the suitors. However, Odysseus is not condemned in the story the same way. Perhaps the difference in perception between the two groups stems from the circumstances surrounding the crime. Odysseus and the suitors both violate hospitality, but Odysseus does it in a situation where the rules have already been broken and that is physically outside the realm of civilization, while the suitors violate the hospitality of a palace and a prince within human society. In looking at the difference between Odysseus and Polyphemus in a foreign cave and the suitors and Odysseus in Ithaca some conclusions about civilization and its links to hospitality can be drawn.
Jennifer Hebel, ’06 Port Byron, IL
Majors: English, Classical Studies
Sponsor: John Gruber-Miller