Tourism and reception in the ancient world

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If we broaden the notion of ‘tourism’ to mean ‘integrated relational tourism’, based on the interpersonal relationships of friendship between guest and host, and serving to strengthen the bonds between different countries and cultural traditions and between man and territorial, historical, artistic and oenological-gastronomic patrimony, we realize that this formula is only apparently ultramodern, in that it is rooted in remote times.An outstanding example is what we are told in the Homeric poem, the Odyssey, regarding that exceptional ‘tourist’ named Ulysses who, sailing from one coast to another, is shipwrecked, escaping from the furious sea, on the island of the Pheacians where the tourist / hospes is filled with gifts, welcomed with all honours and unconditionally, without barriers, stakes or ‘rejections’.The gift is the form of relationship in which relations of rang and power are manifested and is the form of relationships of solidarity with neighbours and the filoi with the etairoi and guests.Hospitality creates interpersonal relationships of xenophilia and is translated into a means of knowledge of the tradition of a country in relation to oenological-gastronomic habits, described with details and serving for religious purposes, in relation to local customs. Referring to the Hesiod dimension (Erga kai emerai), the sea voyage, as we know from his testimony, in the section on navigation, arose first of all from the need to transport produce of the land and as a source of earning. Fortos ‘cargo’ and kerdos ‘earning’ become keywords, serving to represent the focal nucleus around which there rotates nautilia and emporia. Passing on to the Roman dimension, an important text in this connection is Plautus’ Mercator, whose model, Emporos by Philemon, is declared by the playwright in the prologue from the first verses. The father / son generational clash is expressed by the passage from the agricultural dimension, labor rusticus imposed on the pater by the avus, to the dimension of mercatura, to which the pater devotes himself on his death with the sale of the ager and the purchase of a ship not only through a change of job, but also and above all of modus vivendi. In relation to the key concept of reception an exceptional example of hospitality is present in Euripides’ Alcestis. Admetus’ house is in mourning; Alcestis with altruism, love and abnegation, has given life in exchange for that of the bridegroom. When Heracles comes on a journey to perform one of his labores, Admetus welcomes him with all honours, offering him food and wine.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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