In the Homeric poems, gift-giving perhaps receives more attention than any other peaceful heroic activity. It has three outstanding features. First, gifts have an extremely wide range of functions. The word ‘gift’ (dōron) was, as Finley (see bibliog. below) puts it, ‘a cover-all for a great variety of actions and transactions which later became differentiated and acquired their own appellations…payments for services rendered, desired or anticipated; what we would call fees, rewards, prizes and sometimes bribes’ (and, we should perhaps add, taxes, loans, and diplomatic relationships). Secondly, gifts are often extremely valuable; those referred to include cattle, armour, women, and even entire cities. Thirdly, gifts are frequently given within contexts such as *marriage, *funerals, friendship, and ritualized friendship (see
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