In Book 19 of "The Odyssey," after Odysseus told his false story to Penelope, what do her words show about the Greeks' values?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Her words show that the Greeks were not foolish or naïve, for she asks for proof that Odysseus (in disguise) really met her husband. However, when he gives it to her, she weeps, and offers him considerable hospitality:

“Stranger, I was already disposed to pity you, but henceforth you shall be honored and made welcome in my house. It was I who gave Odysseus the clothes you speak of. I took them out of the store room and folded them up myself, and I gave him also the gold brooch to wear as an ornament. Alas! I shall never welcome him home again. It was by an ill fate that he ever set out for that detested city whose very name I cannot bring myself even to mention.”

This accents the Greek value of xenia, the Greek value of guest/host obligation, which we often translate as hospitality. The Greeks valued it highly. (Notice that Penelope also weeps; passion was valued, as was pity.)


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