Friday, February 17, 2006


The discussions of The Odyssey have brought up the subject of xenia. The concept seems, from my understanding of the examples presented and the resulting discussion, to describe the proper relationship between a guest and his host, and seems to include a concept of aiding travellers who come to your door, particularly those seeking aid.

I'm curious about how Hellenic Recons and semi-Recons translate this into a modern practice. I'm curious about the general concept, but also about that "aiding travellers" bit particularly. I remember one time we had a salesman come to the door who had been walking the block all day and was hungry. He asked if he could come in and have a bite. (I was cooking dinner at the time.) Would the concept of xenia say that I should have invited him in? What if the person at the door is just selling stuff for a good cause and doesn't ask for any other aid--are you obligated to buy something from them?

This question came up in my mind because it seems that the ancient Greeks were pretty open with their visitors, and felt fairly safe in relying on the principle of xenia when doing things like inviting a stranger in. Today's world is so different--we're taught to fear strangers who want to come into our homes, and not to trust people we don't know, and things like that. It seems like it would take some doing, or at least some serious adjustment, to be able to practice xenia today in the same sense that the Greeks did.

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