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Homer, Shakespeare and Sophocles - Essay Example

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Homer, Shakespeare and Sophocles

Hospitality is a prominent concept throughout the story. In book four, Odysseus finally returns to Ithaca in secret and begins to look for allies among his former employees. The opening of book four shows that Eumaeus is an industrious person. It tells of how he has built up the pig-sties through his own work, and that he above all of Odysseus' servants takes the best care of his animals, even going so far as to sleep with the pigs at night. He is also shown to be hospitable after the Greek fashion because he always sends the best of the hogs for the suitors, even though he is most likely not happy about doing it. He shows hospitality to Odysseus in beggar form, showing that he is compassionate and not proud. Later he prepares a second meal from one of the fat hogs that are normally reserved for the suitors, and in this his fairness is perfect, as he divides the meat into exactly equal portions. At this second meal he also presents a sacrifice to the gods, showing that he is pious as well. In drawing a comparison between xenia, piety, and morality, it is shown that the Greeks placed very high importance on the concept of hospitality to strangers and friends alike.
As with many Greek choruses, the chorus in Antigone provides insight on the characters and plot of the play, and provides important cues that signal how the audience should feel about and relate to events and characters. In Antigone the chorus appears at pivotal moments to comment on what has occurred. Choruses also add meaning to a play because they are usually composed of a specific type of Greek citizen - for example in Antigone the chorus is made up of Theban elders. This adds meaning to the play because the elders were important for maintaining order in Greek cities, and for the king, their support is crucial - in fact Creon actively tries to win their loyalty. Throughout the play the chorus is torn between remaining loyal to Creon and the necessity of supporting divine law.
In Antigone the chorus of Theban elders supports Creon at the beginning. They are loyal to Creon, and pledge their support (but not their approval) of Creon's plans. However, the chorus begins to change their stance when Creon tells Haemon that he intends to have Antigone executed. The chorus warns that because he is separating two people in love, Creon's actions may offend "[s]he against whom none may battle, the goddess Aphrodite". The members of the chorus are also city officials, therefore they must be pious, and withdraw support from a king who is out of favor with the gods. Later, when Tiresias warns of the gods' punishment they urge Creon to take his warning and bury Polyneices. The chorus ceases supporting Creon because he is close to losing the blessing and support of the gods. They advise Creon to take the only action which will allow him to remain in the gods' favor, and rejoice when he finally takes their advice, however at the end of the play they still judge that his actions have gotten him what he deserved: "By far is having sense the first part of happiness. One must not act impiously toward what pertains to gods. Big words of boasting men, paid for by big blows."

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Summary

The word xenia is the Greek term for the concept of hospitality. This was a dominant theme in Greece and in literature, so much so that Zeus was the deity concerned with hospitality. Hospitality is a prevalent theme in the Odyssey and is an important one at the start of the story, where Penelope's suitors are abusing the hospitality of Odysseus…
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Homer, Shakespeare and Sophocles essay example
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