When Alcinous, who among noblemen is described as an exemplary host, is preparing to send Odysseus back home laden with gifts, he tells each of his other wealthy guests to add “a mighty tripod / and cauldron. I will make the people pay / a levy [a tax], so that none of us will suffer / from unrewarded generosity” (13, 12-15). Later, in Book 13, when Odysseus returns to Ithaca unknown and in the disguise of an old vagrant, the “noble slave” Eumaeus takes him in and shares clothes along with his best available food. Though this swineherd is struggling himself, and has had to give up his best hogs to Penelope’s suitors, he says, “What I have / to give is small, but I will give it gladly” (14, 57-58). In our opinion, between Alcinous and Eumaeus, whose xenia (hospitality) honors Zeus more, and why?
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