All things are best when done without excess: it is as wrong to hurry off a guest who does not wish to leave as to detain a man who longs for home. Kind care for those who stay — and warm farewells for those who go.

[ἶσόν τοι κακόν ἐσθ᾽, ὅς τ᾽ οὐκ ἐθέλοντα νέεσθαι
ξεῖνον ἐποτρύνει καὶ ὃς ἐσσύμενον κατερύκει.
χρὴ ξεῖνον παρεόντα φιλεῖν, ἐθέλοντα δὲ πέμπειν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 15, l. 72ff (15.72) [Menelaus to Telemachus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

A like ill ’tis, to thrust out such a guest
As would not go, as to detain the rest.
We should a guest love, while he loves to stay,
And, when he likes not, give him loving way.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

I purpose not to make you longer stay;
For I conceive ’tis not a good man’s part,
To make too much or little of his guest,
To hold him when he gladly would depart,
Or press him to begone e’er he thinks best.
In hospitality this rule is true:
Love him that stays, help forth the going guest.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 60ff]

Alike he thwarts the hospitable end,
Who drives the free, or stays the hasty friend:
True friendship's laws are by this rule express'd,
Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

The middle course is best; alike we err,
Him thrusting forth whose wish is to remain,
And hind’ring the impatient to depart.
This only is true kindness -- To regale
The present guest, and speed him when he would.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 82ff]

Let us in all things the true mean apply;
Roughness offends, and over-courtesy.
He to my mind an equal sin doth show
Who, when a guest would linger, hints good-bye,
And who, if one desire to part, says no.
Love well the tarrying guest, and speed him fain to go.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 9]

An equal wrong it is to drive away
The guest, who fain would tarry; and to keep
Against his will the guest who fain would go!
'Tis right to treat with love the tarrying guest;
And speed on his way the guest, who wills to go!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869), l. 72ff]

Those acts which to strict equity conform
Are worthiest ever: and the selfsame wrong
Doth he commit who from his home would drive
The guest who fain would linger there, -- with him
Who stays the man that on his way would speed.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 113ff]

He does equal wrong who speeds a guest that would fain abide, and stays one who is in haste to be gone. Men should lovingly entreat the present guest and speed the parting.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

For in all things measure is best.
And good is neither fashion, to thrust out the willing guest
Who is fain to abide, or to stay him who longeth to be on the road;
But to cherish the guest that abideth and to speed the departer is good.
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 71ff]

It is an equal fault to thrust away the guest who does not care to go, and to detain the impatient. Best make the stranger welcome while he stays, and speed him when he wishes.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Moderation is best in all things, and not letting a man go when he wants to do so is as bad as telling him to go if he would like to stay. One should treat a guest well as long as he is in the house and speed him when he wants to leave it.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

'Tis equal wrong if a man speed on a guest who is loath to go, and if he keep back one that is eager to be gone. One should make welcome the present guest, and send forth him that would go.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

There should be moderation in all things, and it is equally offensive to speed a guest who would like to stay and to detain one who is anxious to leave. What I say is, treat a man well while he’s with you, but let him go when he wishes.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

It is equally bad when one speeds on the guest unwilling to go, and when he holds back one who is hastening. Rather one should befriend the guest who is there, but speed him when he wishes.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Balance is best in all things. It’s bad either way,
spurring the stranger home who wants to linger,
holding the one who longs to leave -- you know,
‘Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest!’
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

It's just as wrong to rush a guest's departure
When he doesn't want to go, as it is
To hold him back when he is ready to leave.
Make a guest welcome for as long as he stays
And send him off whenever he wants to go.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 74ff]

There should be moderation in all things, and it is equally offensive to speed a guest who would like to stay and to detain one who is anxious to leave. Treat a man well while he's with you, but let him go when he wishes.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

It is, I think, an equal failing to speed a guest's departure when he is reluctant to leave and to detain him when eager to go. One must care for the guest in one's house, but send him on when he wishes.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

To force a visitor to stay is just as bad as pushing him to go. Be kind to guests while they are visiting, then help them on their way.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

It's just as wrong to urge a guest's departure against his will as to keep him when it's itching to be off. Treat your guest well while he's there, let him go when he wants.
[tr. Green (2018)]

It’s bad when someone does not want to leave
to be too quick to send him on his way,
but just as bad is holding someone back
when he’s ready to depart. For a host
should welcome any guest in front of him
and send away the one who wants to go.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 94ff]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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