Homer’s The Odyssey is a book that’s based primarily in ancient Greece, which means that Greek culture is a prominent part of the storyline. Characters in the story can be seen portraying these cultural values such as Xenia and praying to the gods. This story transmits Greek culture’s values by having important characters carry out these actions which are cemented throughout the book and are typically key parts of the book. A great example of this is when Odysseus prays to Zeus for a sign, “Lifted his hands and prayed to Zeus: ‘Father Zeus, if you really willed it so—to bring me home over land and sea-lanes, home to the native ground after all the pain you brought me… another sign, outside, from Zeus himself!’” (20.109-113). Odysseus prays to Zeus to give him an omen so that he can be assured that the prophecy stated throughout the book of his return is true. Odysseus’ prayer is then answered through very comprehensible signs from Zeus. This is just one example of a character praying to the gods for help. Praying to the gods is a recurring theme in The Odyssey, especially since Odysseus does it quite often. Another very prominent cultural value is Xenia, which similar to praying to the gods, is a persistent theme in the story. Xenia is substantially shown in the story relating to Odysseus, an adequate instance is when Odysseus returns to Ithaca disguised as a beggar and advances to his castle to convince Penelope that her husband is still alive. Following the incognito Odysseus consulting Penelope, she says, “‘Dear friend,’ the discreet Penelope replied, ‘never has any man so thoughtful—of all the guests in my palace come from foreign parts—been as welcome as you… Odysseus must have feet and hands like his by now—hardships can age a person overnight,’” (19.397-408). Penelope doesn’t even know that she just delivered Xenia to her husband disguised as a beggar, she’s doing it solely because it’s a part of Greek culture. It is detrimental that a host serves the guest well to satisfy their requirements. She offers him a foot wash from her maid and later offers him a place to sleep, only with the knowledge that he is an impoverished beggar. The examples presented easily demonstrate how The Odyssey transmits Greek cultural values of welcoming a stranger and praising/praying to the gods when in need of assistance.
As mentioned, The Odyssey takes place in ancient Greece, where at the time those of “lower status” were often given a difficult time. The story demonstrates how those of inferior power impacts equity and oppression. An unfortunate example would be for Penelope, as she is a female and is given little voice at times. One instance is when Antinous is scolding Telemachus, as he says, “‘So, we will devour your worldly goods and wealth as long as she holds out… We’ll not go back to our old estates or leave for other parts, not till she weds the Argive man she fancies,’” (2.136-142). Even from the very beginning of the book, the suitors declare that they will not leave her palace until Penelope has married a suitor. Antinous gives no freedom to Penelope whatsoever and demands that she marries a suitor. This is all without the knowledge of Odysseus’ current status or whereabouts. Such disrespect is shown for those considered to be “of lower power,” even though Penelope is the queen. However, in the succeeding illustration, an individual that appears to be of actual lower power and status receives ample insolence. While concealed as a worthless beggar, Antinous attacks Odysseus verbally and insults him by expressing, “‘Now you won’t get out of the hall unscarred, I swear…’ unstaggered by Antinous’ blow—just shook his head, silent, his mind churning with thoughts of bloody work,” (17.506-514). Antinous is besieging the disguised Odysseus for absolutely no reason other than the fact that he presents the appearance of a beggar. He assumes that this beggar is of lower power and discerns himself as such a high power since he is courting in the hall of Penelope, truly reflecting the misbalance in societal order. There is just utter discontent shown for anyone who appears to be on the lower end of distributed power, and it truly imprints justice of this time. Through the harsh treatment of a beggar and demeaning actions shown for a female, The Odyssey truly demonstrates the distribution of power and how that impacts integrity.