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How was greed displayed throughout "The Odyssey"? What are some examples?

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animal1212 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 23, 2009 at 1:22 AM via web

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How was greed displayed throughout "The Odyssey"? What are some examples?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 23, 2009 at 1:50 AM (Answer #1)

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Greed appears numerous times throughout "The Odyssey." It is a complex topic, because it relates to the Homeric virtue of honor, and the Greek virtue of xenia (hospitality or host/guest relations). Great warriors had to be recognized through getting prizes (stuff, honors, gold, even slaves); guests had to be treated well. These could look like greed, but are other, related issues. Greed itself can be seen in how the Cyclops was unwilling to host Odysseus and his men, but literally ate them instead. It can also be seen in how the suitors stayed eating and drinking at Ithaca for so long—long after good manners would have forced them to leave.

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gekkolies | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 11, 2010 at 10:49 PM (Answer #2)

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Greed is a common theme throughout the Odyssey.

The first reference referring to greed is described early in Book I, when Odysseus's son Telemachus is speaking to Athene discussing the suitors who want to marry his mother Penelope.  He states, "as many as lord it in rocky Ithaca, all these woo my mother and waste my house...so they devour and diminish my house."  This cites one example of greed on the part of the suitors.

Another reference to greed may be found in Book 18 when Eurymachus entertains his friends at Odysseus's house.  He addresses the beggar (Odysseus himself) and illustrates, "thou wilt not care to go to the labours of the field, but wilt choose rather to go louting through the land, that thou mayst have wherewithal to feed thine insatiate belly."

Greed is also described in Book IX in the context of Odysseus leaving the island of the Cyclopes after he blinded the Cyclopes. Odysseus's crew opened Aeolus's sack to look for gold.  Their greed caused a huge storm on the sea, which further hindered their trip home to Ithaca.

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