Welcome… Wesleyan Live, Spring 2011Friendship and Politics: Ancient Practices and Modern Habits Session III, February 15
Xenia“Guest friendship” or “ritualized friendship” is:“a bond of solidarity manifesting itself in an exchange of goods and services between individuals of separate social units” (Ritualised Friendship and the Greek City, Gabriel Herman, p. 10)Questions, comments, email Mel: email@example.com
“Exchange of goods and services”Exchanges are non-mercantile, non-monetary transactions meant to extend the relationship in perpetuity.“From the point of view of the partners [exchanges] appeared not as an end in itself, but as a means for creating a moral obligation” (Herman, p. 10).Questions, comments, email Mel: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Separate social units”Xenoi are 1) non-family members (“outside” the bonds of blood or marriage), or 2) “outside” the bonds of locality or tribes (geographical areas), or 3) “outside” the city (polis).A xenos is a stranger; a philos is kin, a person of the same tribe or deme, or a fellow citizen.Questions, comments, email Mel: email@example.com
How guest-friendships come to be based upon patterns in ancient literatureTwo strangers (not necessarily enemies) are “brought together” and violence looms over their meeting; but violence is averted by a “generous gesture.” This gesture, along with certain rituals, “serves as a kind of triggering event which brings about a reversal: strangeness and enmity are replaced at a stroke with warm intimacy” (Ritualised Friendship and the Greek City, p.43)
A “generous gesture”… Benefactor-Beneficiary• A “benefactor” enacts euergesai -a “favor” or “good deed” (i.e., a short-term sacrifice of self-interest)• A “beneficiary” displays charis (gratitude)• The acceptance of euergesai establishes a “sacred bond of trust”• Because the “favor” must be ‘paid back’ at all costs…(i.e., Darius and Syloson)Questions, comments, email Mel: firstname.lastname@example.org
“along with certain rituals…”Sequence of actions that distinguish guest- friendship:-always a declaration-always an “exchange of gifts” (gifts are symbols of the relationship)-sometimes feasting, taking of oaths, and libationsQuestions, comments, email Mel: email@example.com
Diomedes and Glaucus; Iliad, 6.231-245Diomedes: “But that makes me your friend and you my guest friend if ever you come to Argos, as you are my friend and I your guest whenever I travel to Lycia. So we can’t cross spears with each other even in the thick of battle. There are enough Trojans and allies for me to kill, whomever a god gives me and I can run down myself. And enough Greeks for you to kill as you can.
Renewal of Xenia - Gold for Bronze?And let’s exchange armor, so everyone will know that we are friends from our father’s days.”With this said, they vaulted from their chariots, clasped hands, and pledged their friendship. But Zeus took away Glaucus’ good sense, for he exchanged his golden armor for bronze, the worth of one hundred oxen for nine.Xenia (under the aegis of Zeus) requires reciprocal counter-giving of ‘objects’ of commensurate value; xenoi do not try to “outdo another” (not pleonexia).Questions, comments, email Mel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Xenoi…• Behave as if they “love” one another (but they might not)• Guarantee “mutual protection and help” between one another and one’s closest associates, offspring, etc. (including foster parenthood)• Live apart; distance seems to be key in the relationship• A xenos can act as, or is, a proxenos (a “foreign” friend with whom there exists a “sacred bond of trust,” i.e. the Athenian “traitor” Alcibiades…)Questions, comments, email Mel: email@example.com
Pseudo-Aristotle Magna Moralia“Further it may perhaps be thought that wherever justice is possible, there friendship may exist too. Wherefore there are many species of friendship as there are just dealings. Now there can be justice between a foreigner and a citizen, between a slave and his master, between one citizen and another, between son and father, between wife and husband, and generally every form of association has its separate form of friendship. But the firmest of friendships would seem to be that with a foreigner, for they have no common aim about which to dispute, as is the case with fellow citizens; for when these dispute with one another for the priority, they do not remain friends” (2.1211a6-13).
Xenoi do not experience Eris?• Philoi have a common object (i.e., the common good?) for which and about which they argue and dispute;• Xenoi have no common object, so there is no reason for them to argue and dispute.
Pros and Cons?• Xenia is an “overwhelmingly upperclass” practice?• Xenia is not motivated by Eris or Philia?• Xenia transcends social and political boundaries, so xenia cannot be a viable social or political practice?• Xenia is the only type of human relationship that is inherently non-competitive?