The Odyssey Tradition and Custom Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Line)
(Odysseus:) ‘O great Alkinoös, pre-eminent among all people, there is a time for many words, and a time for sleeping; but if you insists of hearing me still, I would not begrudge you the tale of these happenings and others yet more pitiful to hear, the sorrows of my companions, who perished later, who escaped the onslaught and cry of battle, but perished all for the sake of a vile woman, on the homeward journey.’ (11.378-384)
Though it causes him pain, Odysseus tells his story in order to play the role of a good guest. He repays the generous hospitality with his words.
(Eumaios:) ‘You too, old man of many sorrows, since the spirit brought you here to me, do not try to please me nor spell me with lying words. It is not for that I will entertain and befriend you, but for fear of Zeus, the god of guests, and for my own pity.’ (14.386-389)
Odysseus, for the first time, has proven an unworthy guest by telling lies to his host. Eumaios sees this, but overrides his hesitation at this dishonesty out of respect to Zeus. The rules of the gods, we see, are all-important.
The swineherd stood up to divide the portions, for he was fair minded, and separated all the meat into seven portions. One he set aside, with a prayer, for the nymphs and Hermes, the son of Maia, and the rest he distributed to each man, but gave Odysseus in honor the long cuts of the chine’s portion of the white-toothed pig, and so exalted the heart of his master. (14.432-438)
Eumaios honors his guest like a king, taking the cuts usually saved for a lord from the meat and giving them to Odysseus. He also honors him in the same ritual with which he honors the gods, practically equating his guest to a divine being.