Howdy, Stranger.

Excerpted from The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles ©1996:

Daydreaming so as he sat among the suitors,
he glimpsed Athena now
and straight to the porch he went, mortified
that a guest might still be standing at the doors.
Pausing beside her there, he clasped her right hand
and relieving her at once of her long bronze spear,
met her with winged words:  “Greetings, Stranger!
Here in our house you’ll find a royal welcome.
Have supper first, then tell us what you need.”

That’s a pattern that’s repeated over and over:  guests are greeted, fed, sometimes even bathed and clothed, and only after they’ve been well taken care of are they asked what they came for.

This would have been about the time Sodom was destroyed for Not Being Nice.  Ezekiel 16:49–50:

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty… Therefore I did away with them, as you have seen.

So it’s hard to say that it was a more congenial time.  It’s just that hospitality was rigidly enforced.

One thought on “Howdy, Stranger.

  1. …visitors were maybe more appreciated because humanity was still relatively “new” and meeting people was unique and a pleasure… but the Christian ethos is one of the bigger myths with regard to how to treat a stranger… sure, the New Testament maybe asked for kinder treatment, but the Old Testament was still pretty harsh… and I think that its ethic are remember more …


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