Three Islands, Three Lessons
In the epic poem, The Odyssey, Homer tells the story of a war hero named Odysseus who is away from home for twenty years. During this time, Odysseus fights in the Trojan War and then travels for ten years trying to return home. Throughout this journey, Odysseus learns many lessons; however, the three most important lessons he learns are to follow the laws of xenia, the importance of family, and to show respect to the gods. The first lesson that Odysseus learns is to follow the laws of xenia. When Polyphemus gets home and sees that Odysseus ate his sheep, he eats his men, “So I spoke, but he in pitiless spirit…sprang up and reached for my companions slapped them against the ground…brains ran all over the floor…he cut them up limb by limb and got supper ready” (144). Odysseus does not follow the laws of xenia because he eats Polyphemus’ sheep without permission, and in turn Polyphemus ate Odysseus' men, just because he does not want to follow the laws of xenia. Odysseus learns that it is better to request something instead of simply taking it. Later on his journey, Odysseus learns about good hospitality when Eumaois gives up his bed, “So there Odysseus went to bed…only the swineherd did not please to leave his pigs but made preparations as he went out” (146). Eumaois followed the laws of xenia by giving up his bed to Odysseus; he showed hospitality to Odysseus by giving up his bed and sleeping with his pigs. Odysseus finally realizes that he should respect the laws of xenia because of the losses he suffered. While on his journey, Odysseus also learns the importance of family. During his time in Hades, Odysseus found his mother and discovered the reason for her death, “And so it was me…the reason I perished…it was my longing for you that took the sweet spirit of life from me” (173). In this quote, it shows that when one has family, there is someone that cares for another. Also, family always cares about the person they...
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