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3. Establishing the Cultural Script of Hospitality to Strangers in the Graeco-Roman World

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Chapter Summary

The sociocultural gap between ancient Mediterranean hospitality and contemporary notions of hospitality is great. Homer's Odyssey commands attention in the construction of the cultural script for two reasons; (i) Homer's poems exerted enormous influence, especially with respect to ethics, and (ii) the ubiquity of the theme of hospitality throughout the epic. Both Odysseus' absence from his own house in Ithaca, which results in Telemachus' own traveling, as well Odysseus' constant wanderings into unknown lands and dwellings results in an epic which revolves around the motif of hospitality. Julian Pitt-Rivers claims in fact that the Odyssey "may be viewed as a study in the laws of hospitality". The consistent pattern of these hospitality type-scenes within the Odyssey creates the possibility of studying and abstracting the distinct cultural elements involved in the practice of ancient Mediterranean hospitality.

Keywords: ancient Mediterranean; contemporary notions; cultural script; Homer's Odyssey; hospitality; Julian Pitt-Rivers; Odysseus; Telemachus



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