'The odyssey portrays a society in which slaves are valued and loyal'
The Odyssey is set in an ancient Greek society where slaves could either be valued as possessions or valued in terms of being treated as part of the family. Since slaves in Ancient Greece were usually spoils of war or could be bought in the market place, they were seen as property and this fact perhaps undermines how valuable they could have been to their master. The loyalty of a slave can be assessed by how trustworthy they are to their master and to oikos. In an Ancient Greek society where masters were usually away at war, a slave's loyalty could be judged by their ability to side with their master although they were away. Both value and loyalty must be discussed separately as within The Odyssey, a number of slaves are portrayed by Homer as valued but disloyal or loyal but not valued.
An example of a slave in the Odyssey who is treated with value and is also portrayed as loyal is Eumaeus, the swineherd. Odysseus' disguise among other reasons in book 14 is in order for him to distinguish those that remain loyal to him despite his absence. In Book 14 when we first meet Eumaeus, he displays his loyalty to Odysseus by complimenting his master, commenting that he will never find a master as good as Odysseus and by demonstrating his dedication to his job despite his master's absence (he is even willing to sleep outside with his boars). This proves his loyalty particularly because he does this in the company of a disguised Odysseus. The ancient Greeks, aware of how long a master could be away from home due to war, would be able to understand Eumaeus' continuation of his work without the presence of Odysseus highlighting his value as an asset needed for the good of oikos. The audience realises Eumaeus' value to the family in Book 16 when he greets Telemachus on his return like a fond father would, showering him with kisses. The homeric simile used by Homer to describe this recognition scene...
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