Study Guide

Nestor in The Odyssey

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Telemachos meets this guy, the King of Pylos, while he's searching for news of his father. Nestor provides another great example of good Greek hospitality, plying the Ithakan Prince with gifts, food, and even transportation to his next destination (Sparta). As Telemachos describes it later, Nestor "gave me hospitality, and loving free attention, as a father would to his own beloved son" (17.110-11).

And he really pulls out all the stops for Telemachos. He sends one kid to get a cow; another to get all of Telemachos' companions; another to fetch the goldsmith to cover the cow's horns in gold; and then tells the rest to "tell the serving women who are in the house to prepare a glorious dinner, and set chairs and firewood in readiness, and fetch bright water" (3.418-429). Meaning? There's about to be an awesome party up in Nestor's palace.

And when the party's over, Nestor refuses to let Telemachos head back to his ship to sleep, saying, "I do have abundance of fine rugs and blankets. No, no, in my house the dear son of Odysseus shall not have to go to sleep on the deck of a ship, as long as I am alive, and my sons after me are left in my palace to entertain our guests, whoever comes to my household" (3.346-355). This man takes hospitality seriously, and he has the linens to prove it. (Check out our section on linens in "Symbols" for more about how important blankets are.)

There's only one problem: Nestor's hospitality is so over-the-top that Telemachos has to bypass his palace on the way back to Ithaka to avoid the time-consuming festivities his return visit would bring.

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