How Are the Values of Ancient Greece Portrayed in the Odyssey?

The Odyssey, a classic epic poem by the ancient Greek poet Homer, presents readers with an array of values and beliefs that were important to the people of ancient Greece. These values are reflected in the actions and decisions of the main characters throughout the story, and they offer us a glimpse into the morals and virtues that were upheld by ancient Greeks. Let’s take a closer look at how these values are portrayed in The Odyssey.

The Importance of Hospitality
One of the most significant values in ancient Greek society was hospitality, or “xenia.” This value is evident throughout The Odyssey, as we see various characters offering hospitality to others, often without knowing who they are.

For example, when Odysseus arrives on the island of Phaeacia, he is welcomed by King Alcinous and Queen Arete, who offer him food and shelter without asking for anything in return. Similarly, when Telemachus goes to Pylos and Sparta to search for his father, he is welcomed into people’s homes and treated with kindness and respect.

The Power of Cunning
In addition to hospitality, another value emphasized in The Odyssey is cunning or “metis.” Odysseus himself embodies this trait as he uses his wits to outsmart various enemies throughout his journey home.

For example, when he encounters Polyphemus (the Cyclops), Odysseus tricks him into drinking wine until he passes out so that he can escape. Likewise, when he returns home disguised as a beggar, Odysseus uses his cunning to test his wife Penelope’s loyalty before revealing himself.

The Importance of Family

Family is also a central theme in The Odyssey. We see this through Telemachus’ quest for information about his father’s whereabouts and Penelope’s unwavering loyalty to her husband despite his long absence. Additionally, Odysseus’ reunion with his son and wife is one of the most emotional moments in the story, highlighting the importance of family bonds.

The Value of Honor and Glory
Ancient Greeks placed great importance on honor and glory, and these values are also present in The Odyssey. Odysseus’ desire for kleos (glory) motivates him to take risks and overcome challenges throughout his journey home.

For example, he chooses to confront the Cyclops even though it puts him and his men in danger because he wants to be remembered as a hero. Similarly, the suitors who pursue Penelope are motivated by their desire for honor, as they believe that marrying a queen would bring them great status.

The Importance of Loyalty
Finally, loyalty is another crucial value in The Odyssey. Odysseus remains loyal to his crew despite their many mistakes, and they remain loyal to him even when they doubt his abilities. Penelope’s loyalty to her husband is also an essential aspect of her character, as she resists the suitors’ advances despite their constant pressure.


In conclusion, The Odyssey provides readers with a window into ancient Greek values and beliefs. From hospitality to cunning, family bonds to honor and glory, loyalty to courage – these values were essential in shaping ancient Greek society. By immersing ourselves in this epic poem, we can gain a better understanding of what was valued by those who lived thousands of years ago – values that continue to influence our world today.