The Odyssey Tradition and Custom Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
But when Alkinoös of the hallowed strength had heard this, he took by the hand the wise and much-devising Odysseus, and raised him up from the fireside, and set him in a shining chair, displacing for this powerful Laodamas, his son, who had been sitting next him and who was the one he loved most. A maidservant brought water for him and poured it from a splendid and golden pitcher, holding it above a silver basin for him to wash, and she pulled a polished table before him. A grave housekeeper brought in the bread and served it to him, adding many good things to it, generous with her provisions. Then long-suffering great Odysseus ate and drank. (7.167-177)
It is important to note that Odysseus receives this royal treatment before revealing his identity as the famous hero who helped the Greeks win the Trojan war. Much like Athene in disguise, he is treated well even in anonymity.
(Alkinoös:) ‘Now, having feasted, go home and take your rest, and tomorrow at dawn we shall call the elders in, in greater numbers, and entertain the guest in our halls, and to the immortals accomplish fine sacrifices, and after that we shall think of conveyance, and how our guest without annoyance or hardship may come again, convoyed by us, to his own country, in happiness and speed, even though it lies very far off […].’ (7.188-194)
Because he doesn’t know who Odysseus is, Alkinoös’s excessive hospitality is based purely on Greek tradition.
(Alkinoös:) ‘Here is this stranger, I do not know who he is, come wandering suppliant here to my house from the eastern or western people. He urges conveyance, and entreats us for its assurance. So let us, as we have done before, hasten to convey him, for neither has any other man who has come to my house stayed here grieving a long time for the matter of convoy.’ (8.28-33)
When Alkinoös refers to past visitors “to my house,” we see that this is no special case of remarkable hospitality. Clearly, this is the norm for the generous Phaiakians.