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The Odyssey

Homer
Summary

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

8) Why does Nestor invite Telemachus to the feast before knowing his identity?

By inviting Telemachus to the feast without knowing who he is, Nestor demonstrates the ancient Greek custom of hospitality known as xenia. This custom dictates that hosts and guests must show mutual respect toward one another, which includes offering food, drink, gifts, and shelter even before the host knows a person’s identity. Only after Telemachus has been provided food and drink does Nestor question the young man: “Now’s the time, now they’ve enjoyed their meal, / to probe our guests and find out who they are. / Strangers—friends, who are you?” Homer emphasizes these rituals throughout the poem whenever proper hosts meet strangers.