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Classical Greek Tutoring
Newsletter, 5th April 2020

Welcome to the latest newsletter from Classical Greek Tutoring and I hope this finds you well.    

In this regular newsletter, I will bring you the latest news in the classics world, as well as hints and tips for learning Greek.  Best wishes, Helen

Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics

This week's podcast recommendation is radio series by award-winning author and classics advocate, Natalie Haynes. Natalie's Stand up for the Classics series for the BBC is in its sixth series and each episode focuses on an individual from the ancient world. Listen here or you could search for Natalie Haynes: Stand Up Classicist on Facebook to see her weekly videos entitled '#OvidNotCovid.' Please drop me a line with your podcast suggestions!

Mourning the great works of literature we'll never get to read

In this article, Charlotte Higgins writes about the literature and material culture from the ancient world that has not survived to the present day. She says, "To be any kind of student of the classical world requires an acceptance of loss." So much of ancient literature was destroyed in the fire at the Library of Alexandria (allegedly the fire was started by order of Julius Caesar) and so the images we have of the classical world are incomplete and fragmentary. Read more here.

Ancient Greek Literature


Hospitality in Homer

In Odyssey book 4, illustrated on the vase painting, left, Telemachos is welcomed into the palace of Menelaus despite the host not recognising him and being in the middle of a wedding feast for his children. The rules of hospitality or xenia are extremely important and must be carried out in the following order. The guest or xenos should be welcomed into the host's home and offered food and greetings. Once the food has been consumed, the guest may be questioned, usually along the lines of 'who are you and where do you come from?' Accommodation should be offered and assistance with the guest's onward journey provided.

The guest would receive gifts from the host which he would display in his home as a sign of wealth and honour. The value of the gifts also reflected on the honour of the donor and indeed the collection of wealth by xenia is seen as a respectable aristocratic pastime (Od. 4.81-91). 

In addition, the host benefitted from the creation of a network of xenoi for himself if ever he required food and shelter.

This network of xenoi is hereditary with some xenia relationships originally forged in the far distant past. A curious example can be found in Iliad 6 (lines 119-136). Diomedes, a Greek, and Glaukos, a Trojan, come together in chariots during the fighting: Diomedes says to Glaukos that he has not seen him on the battlefield before, queries whether Glaukos might be an immortal god, and in his answer, over the course of 67 lines(!), Glaukos responds with a detailed account of his ancestor Bellerophon. Diomedes rejoices, informing Glaukos that his own ancestor Oineus once entertained Bellerophon. With this information, the two warriors jump from their chariots, vow to continue this hereditary xenia relationship, and exchange their armour (ll.6.232-236). This expression of xenia across the battlelines is echoed in the words of Nestor's son, Peisistratos. As he leaves Sparta with Telemachus, he remarks that "a guest remembers all his days the man who received him / As a host receives a guest, and gave him the gifts of friendship" (Od.15.54-5).

I will continue this look at the Homeric epics in the next newsletter. 

If you have any questions about classical Greek language or literature, please drop me a line and I'll do my best to help.

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Classical Greek Tutoring

39 Old Mill Grove, Belfast
United Kingdom

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