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Sacred Hospitality

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"Menelaus, there are some strangers come here, two men, who look like sons of Zeus. What are we to do? Shall we take their horses out, or tell them to find friends elsewhere as they best can?"

Menelaus was very angry and said, "Eteoneus, son of Boethous, you never used to be a fool, but now you talk like a simpleton. Take their horses out, of course, and show the strangers in that they may have supper; you and I have stayed often enough at other people's houses before we got back here, where heaven grant that we may rest in peace henceforward."

Hospitality is sacred. The Gods will that if a stranger comes knocking, the host must offer them fresh clothing, food and lodging. The host cannot ask the stranger about their identity until after the host's duties of hospitality have been fulfilled. When the guest leaves, the host gives gifts and breaks a die, which makes a sacred family connection. The host must not harm the guest, the guest must not harm the host, and not offering hospitality is a serious affront.

In Ancient Greek, hospitality was called xenia and was sacred; Zeus was called Zeus Xenios in his function as God and guarantor of hospitality and protectors of guests. This comes from the word for "stranger"; so, for that matter, does "hospitality", "hospice", "hostel", and "hotel". Another word from that root is "hostile", which helps explain why the rules are so severe.

Less popular in modern times with the rise in hostels and hotels and forms of transport that mean twenty miles is not a day's journey, and decreasing odds that you will have to fight someone who's a stranger, but Older Than Feudalism and of vast historical importance when you are travelling a long distance through Wild Wilderness on a dirt trail. In the middle ages, in remote areas, an isolated house might be your only refuge from storms, blizzards, wolves, and bandits. For them to not offer you hospitality could be life or death. Because it's less important nowadays (with cheap motels in even the smallest towns), the extreme punishments dealt out to people who abuse or refuse hospitality in classic tales in Period Piece films may appear disproportionate.

May be the Good Old Ways, practiced in Arcadia and by the Noble Savage.

Tastes Like Friendship is closely related. The host/guest bond may in fact be triggered by their eating salt (or bread and salt) together.note 

Often explicitly invoked in No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine. Must Be Invited is closely related, though a being bound by both rules is going to find it very difficult to hurt anyone (at least while they're at home!). The traditional solution to this problem is greeting your guests with: "All those with goodwill toward this house may enter it." As a result of this many Villain Over for Dinner situations usually at least try to stay civil and both parties will save any hostilities for once they're outside.

Often associated with the Old American South, the British Nobility, the Latter-Day Saints and Japan. Frequently results in Angel Unaware. Often a result of Bedouin Rescue Service. If played up in an inappropriate setting or to a ridiculous extent, it's Stranger Safety. When a guest abuses this by extending their stay overly long, it becomes The Thing That Would Not Leave (and expect a Cowboy Cop to violate this through No Warrant? No Problem!). Contrast with Food Chains where it isn't safe to eat anything. For the ultimate violation, see Nasty Party.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used in A Bride's Story, befitting the setting. A messenger with letters for Smith came all the way from Macedonia and the villagers bicker over each other as to who he will stay with until Akunbek declares him his guest.
  • Results in a somewhat tense moment in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan when some old enemies show guests, this time.
  • Okko's Inn has the core tenet that anyone who stops in is welcome and must be served to the best of the staff's ability.
  • One Piece:
    • Whiskey Peak puts on A Fête Worse than Death for visiting pirates, feeding and boozing them into a state where they can be easily killed or captured; Zoro (a Type 1 Never Gets Drunk) sees through this and single-handedly takes down the entire town. However, Luffy, having missed the chaos, is furious at Zoro for attacking people who were kind and gave them plenty of food. He's actually so angry at Zoro that he refuses to hear any explanation and actually starts a fight to the death. Meanwhile, Nami (also a Type 1) decides that turnabout is fair play and uses the chaos to help herself to their loot.
    • Big Mom, a violent, mentally-unstable, occasionally-cannibalistic pirate, takes Sacred Hospitality seriously. As seen when she falls into Tranquil Fury and KOs Page One when she learns that Kaido's men had razed Okobore, an impoverished town that took her in and shared what little food they had without hesitation or ulterior motive while she was suffering from amnesia.

  • In one of the very oldest Robin Hood ballads, "Robin Hood and the Potter", Robin lures the sheriff to the forest but then lets him go on the grounds that the sheriff's wife had been hospitable to him.

    Comic Books 
  • Age of Bronze: Taking Helen, with or without her consent, Menelaus' son by her, and the valuables of the palace is a massive breach of the hospitality that the Achaeans believe in. It's not just a breach of manners and trust, it's a breach of the gods' laws.
  • Hound: Farrell accepts Calatin and Maeve's soldiers from Connact into his house according to the customs of Ulla. One of Maeve's soldiers strangles him to death to steal a magnificent bull from his farm.
  • In I Hate Fairyland, the protagonist Gert is a child who has been stuck in the titular Fairyland for close to three decades and has subsequently become a menace to society. Despite this, her status as a "Guest" of Fairyland means that the rulers of Fairyland cannot personally harm her and she is openly immune to their magic... Unless another child comes to Fairyland and completes their quest, at which point Gert will become a true resident of Fairyland and all bets are off.
  • Lucifer: The main character visits the pantheon of the Japanese Underworld. Its gods plot extensively to make him break the code of sacred hospitality, giving them an excuse to kill him. He smoothly dodges every attempt.
  • Necrophim: Lord Lucifer violates it by killing an emissary of King Jotunheim with full knowledge that he will take it as an insult and a violation of guest rights. However, as Uriel points out, she did herself no favors by making her presence known by decapitating the first guard who approached her to demand an audience with the Morningstar.
  • In PS238, Hestia, a pre-teen avatar of the same-named Greek god of the home, has the ability to totally incapacitate or worse anyone who breaks the laws of hospitality.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • Sacred Hospitality is important between mythological creatures. When Morpheus offers hospitality to his guests in Season of Mists he is physically incapable of breaking it or allowing harm to any of his guests (whether he was aware they were his guests when he offered it or not), unless they reject or violate it first. Notably, hospitality has to be offered first: Lucifer nearly kills Morpheus in the first volume after having not offered any hospitality or safety to him, but when the two later meet in Season of Mists Morpheus is willing to trust Lucifer when he does give his word that no harm will befall Morpheus within the boundaries of Hell.
    • A demon visiting the Dreaming while holding one of Morpheus's ex-lovers captive makes the mistake of rejecting his hospitality, and ends up in a jar in his attic.
  • Spider-Man: During The Clone Saga, Ben Reilly (who was Spider-Man at the time) helped the injured mobster Jimmy 6 get medical attention after it was clear there was a contract on his head and later said he'd help later if he needed it. Unfortunately for Ben, Jimmy (who was the son of up-and-coming crime lord Fortunado, and trying to lay low from his father for a while) took him up on that offer when he needed a place to stay; despite the fact that Jimmy was not the most pleasant roommate, Ben kept his word. (And Ben was able to prevent a crisis later when Fortunado did make his move because of it; plus, Jimmy remembered it, and was an occasional ally of Peter, who took over again as Spidey after Ben's death at the hands of Norman Osborn.)
  • In Superman story The Living Legends Of Superman, when an oddly-dressed stranger who is probably out of his own time stumbles dazedly onto their doorstep, the Bendix family begs him to take a seat at the table, have dinner with them and stay until he is rested.
  • Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia deals with Diana offering protection to a runaway girl from Gotham City. This is before the runaway is revealed as a murderer (the people she killed needed to go, though.) Eventually, Batman shows up to arrest her, but not only did Wonder Woman promise her guest protection and hospitality, the guest also invoked the titular Hiketeia, a ritual that requires that Wonder Woman does not discharge her guest without the guest's consent, on pain of death from the Erinyes, who will kill her if she does so. Since Wonder Woman's life is forfeit if she surrenders the girl and Batman (unaware of this deal) is not just going to let the girl get away with murder, Wonder Woman and Batman end up fighting over the situation and their conflicting morals. The girl decides to leap off a bridge. Batman himself tries to invoke the Hiketeia so that Wondy wouldn't be able to stop him without breaking her oath, but she informs him that she has the right to refuse it if she chooses. It only applies once she accepts it in the first place, as she did with the girl.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts:
    • In one Sunday strip where it's snowing, Charlie Brown calls to Snoopy to tell him to come to the house for supper, given the weather. Seeing as he's been invited, Snoopy dresses up in a nice hat and cloak. ("Why does he always make a big deal out of everything?" sighs Charlie Brown.)
    • In a much later strip, Charlie Brown does it again, and Snoopy decides to bring a bottle of root beer. (Seeing as most adult guests bring wine.)

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Andrew Lang's "The Adventures Of Covan The Brown Haired" (link), Covan gets the gratitude and help of a dog, an otter, and a falcon by accepting their hospitality for a night — neither mistrusting them nor scorning it as simple.
  • In Russian fairy tales, the hero sometimes complains, when he finds a person at home, that the person there does not offer him food and drink before questioning him — not only when he meets captive maidens, but sometimes even when he meets Baba Yaga.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, taking the rose is not only theft but it is also compounded by the hospitality shown to the merchant first.
  • In The Cat on the Dovrefell: When the traveler knocks on the cottage's door and asks if he and his bear could get a room, Halvor warns his family is being driven out by trolls. The traveler begs to stay and is given one room, nonetheless.
  • In "The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs", the main character sets out to the city, but he gets lost and seeks shelter in a cabin in a nearby forest. An old woman answers the door and warns him he is seeking shelter in a den of thieves, and he will surely be killed. Nonetheless, he is allowed to spend the night, and he is not disturbed by the returning thieves, either.
  • In "Molly Whuppie", three sisters turned out of their house take shelter with a giant and his wife. During the night, the giant attempts to murder them, making us feel anything but sorry when the title character tricks him into killing his own daughters instead and then plunders him on three more missions.
  • In the Indian fairy tale The Story of the Rakshasas, the brothers' offer to deal with some rakshasas is strongly objected to on the grounds they are guests and should not have their lives thus endangered.
    They declared that guests were like gods, and that it was the duty of the host to endure all sorts of privation for the comfort of the guest, and not the duty of the guest to suffer for the host.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge:
    • While a guest in the Crystal Empire, Xenilla gets into a fight with King Sombra, who had infiltrated the Empire planning to assassinate Princess Cadance, and the fight causes a lot of property damage and injures a few citizens. Sombra slips away without anyone seeing him and Xenilla is arrested. Not believing his story, Cadance calls him out on violating hospitality and throws him in the dungeon. She later has him officially pardoned after he breaks out of the dungeon to rescue her from Sombra's next attempt.
    • In the spin-off The Bridge: Sound of Thunder, the villains from the Mirror Universe spit on this rule. On at least two occasions, they turned on those who generously offered them food, shelter, and friendship and massacred them. When Mirror Starlight Glimmer calls them out on their violations and asks how they could be so ungrateful, they mock her and say they can kill whoever they want.
  • Both Wildlings and nobles in A Discordant Note are willing to put aside their wariness of the new sorcerer beyond the wall once he extends guest rights to them. While Harry Black himself doesn't much care about guest rights, one of his charges by the Old Gods in exchange for their help is to punish those who violate guest rights.
    • Comes up again in the sequel where Harry invites Azshara to his wedding hoping she'll turn hostile. His home has a particularly nasty curse on it awaiting anyone who violates his hospitality, but Azshara is too polite to even seriously consider doing so.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Enter the Dragon (not to be confused with the MLP fanfic of the same name), Dumbledore makes use of the rules around hospitality to impress upon Lucius Malfoy the precariousness of Lucius' position, by making him either eat the meat of Slytherin's basilisk (thus angering Voldemort if he ever returns to life and learns about it) or give Dumbledore cause to challenge him to a duel (and almost-certainly kill him). All the while monologuing about how if he ever again learns that Lucius has harmed a student at Hogwarts, but without enough evidence to go to court, then Dumbledore will simply go on a killing spree, taking down as many Death Eaters as possible, before voluntarily handing himself in to satisfy the law.
    Face now paper white and stomach twisting itself in knots, Lucius finally regained enough of his senses to reach for his napkin, but before he could spit out his most recent bite of the Dark Lord’s pet basilisk, he froze as his host spoke once more.
    "Are you absolutely certain you want to do that, Lucius?" Albus Dumbledore, the defeater of Grindlewald and the strongest wizard west of the Urals spoke in a dangerously calm voice. "Refusing the meal would mean refusing my hospitality, something that could be taken as a personal insult, were I so inclined. That is just the sort of insult that might precipitate a duel, I would imagine."
  • Fate/Harem Antics: Rin tries to kick Illya and Berserker out of Shirou's house after Shirou had invited them. Illya calls her out on this, saying Rin is a noble like her and should know better.
  • Fate/Long Night: After Shirou and Rin agree to an alliance, Shirou invites her and her summon, Brandon Stark, into his home. Arturia protests, believing Rin and Brandon will simply attack them when they drop their guard. Brandon becomes incredibly offended and says he'll never violate Guest Right.
  • The Good Hunter:
    • Knowing that the Hunter is here to visit Talbot, the alderman of the village of Glaspire, his wife Aria invites the Hunter in for tea while the both of them wait for Talbot to arrive. The entire meeting goes well, and Talbot internally notes that the Hunter is far more polite than the brutal, murdering fiend the stories paint him as.
    • Lampshaded in the snippets. During his first visit to the Dream brought to life, the Wandering Scholar notes that he does not expect either the polite demeanour or the hospitality displayed by Cyril, the Hunter of bloodthirsty reputation.
  • In Imaginary Seas, the citizens of Atlantis greet Percy warmly after mistaking him for Poseidon. They cater to his every whim and he tries to return the favor by protecting them from Caenis, invoking it in return.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Bell first meets Kojiro when he collapses in front of Bell's grandpa's farm. Bell's grandpa took him in and fed him, and Bell struck up a rapport with Kojiro from then on.
  • In It's An Unliving, the Self-Insert Black Lantern learns that the true problem with his accidental maiming of Hades' daughter Melinoe wasn't what he did but her actions provoking it. While the Black Lantern was visiting Hades to discuss business matters, Melinoe attempted to remove his Power Ring which is literally the only thing holding his undead form together. While his mind is stored in the ring and would have been safe, attempting to destroy his physical form is still a massive breach of guest rights.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Kyril may not be a nice person to hang out with in general, nor does he give a crap about honour, but he is surely a hospitable host, as shown from his interactions in the Hunter's Dream with his guests, Celestine and Olga. This is despite that both have them have entered his abode without his permission, albeit unwittingly, due to them peeping in Kyril's journal.
    • Anna references this trope when Grace and Soren visit her home.
      Anna: Well, come in the both of you. It's cold out and I won't let it be known that Anna Florence is a terrible hostess.
  • Past Continuous: This trope is part of Cardassian culture, as noted in Tayben Berat's narration. He avoids using a particular pronoun so that he doesn't give offense to Kanril Eleya as host, and accepts her offer of a drink, though he does reprimand her for mouthing off slightly to him as her superior officer; she apologizes.
  • Realm of Entwined Science and Sorcery — Academy City: Queen Medb believes in this. She is a polite guest to Touma's apartment and is offended when she learns Index takes advantage of his hospitality without contributing anything in return.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, a How to Train Your Dragon fanfic, Stoick takes sacred hospitality quite seriously. This becomes a plot point when ships from Eire arrive at Berk to discuss an alliance. After Stoick and Hiccup promise their hospitality to the Eirish crew they discover that the Eirish had brought thralls with them, which presents a problem for Stoick; generations ago thralldom was outlawed on Berk and Stoick is personally opposed to any form of slavery. Also, each chapter of the story begins with a passage from a (fictitious) scholarly work regarding the history of Berk and how Berk becoming a safe haven for dragons has affected world history. One passage discusses the history and importance of sacred hospitality, observing that in many holy scriptures those who observed sacred hospitality were blessed while those who denied it were punished.
  • Fire Lord Zuko's response to the Gaang's arrival in Towards the Sun to give them the palace's best hospitality, give them the rooms they want so they can feel safe, have his servants cater to them, and try to be a good host. The Gaang's response is to be constantly rude to Zuko's face (all of them), constantly accuse Zuko of poisoning them (Sokka), threatening to attack Zuko thinking that he wouldn't hear (Katara), making impossible demands (Aang), and be rude to all the servants (the original Gaang). Toph even points out that Zuko is lying when he's trying to say it was nice to have them.
  • With This Ring: Downplayed, but Paul later realises that this is part of why Wonder Woman (from a Greek background) didn't raise objections to him working with the Sivana family, while other League members would have liked him to just arrest them all. While he was a guest in their home, xenia dictated that he ought to remain polite and not start anything.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast's offense was not giving a poor old woman shelter in his castle, even in the dead of winter. As a result, this poor old woman reveals herself as an enchantress who turns him into the Beast. Lumiere welcomes Maurice into the castle as a guest when Maurice seeks shelter from the wolves. When Maurice's daughter, Belle, takes his place, Lumiere declares that Belle should also be treated as a guest, rather than a prisoner. Of course, this is a throwback to the original version of the story, where the Beast demands restitution from Beauty's father after the man violates this tradition by stealing from him after the Beast gives him food and shelter (which also happens in the 2017 version).
  • In The Frog Princess, Ivan complains out loud because Baba Yaga doesn't invite him in to eat before asking questions.
  • It's revealed in Frozen II that Anna and Elsa's grandfather Runeard actually violated hospitality by murdering his host, the Northuldra leader, when his back was turned. This led to the spirits turning against humanity.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, when Jack has kidnapped Santa Claus as his guest for Christmas, he gave instructions that Santa was to be kept comfortable during his stay. When Jack finds out that Oogie Boogie was not only treating Santa terribly but was planning to eat him, Jack was pissed.
  • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Simone quickly offers to let Mystery Inc. stay the night in her mansion, insisting she can’t let them leave without enjoying some Southern hospitality. This is even after the gang had caused some trouble due to Scooby relentlessly pursuing her swarm of pet cats, Scooby and Shaggy constantly raising a ruckus due to being easily scared every few minutes, disrupting her gardener’s work, and scraping up the wall of her kitchen to look for clues. Easily Forgiven in the name of Southern hospitality, right? Dead wrong. What Simone, Lena, and Jacques have planned for the gang is very, very much the antithesis of Southern hospitality, and was in fact a red flag that something was very wrong.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Referenced in 9th Company. During their training, the Soviet soldiers are taught about the Pashtun concept of hospitality and how the locals will see nothing contradictory about hosting you in their villages and fighting you in the mountains. Later on, one of the soldiers comes across an Afghan man while looking for supplies and the man takes him to a nearby village. Despite being on his own, no harm comes to him.
  • The Beast of War is another movie about the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan that invokes the trope. The Pashtun rebels spare the life of the protagonist (a Soviet tank driver) when he appeals to their traditional code of Pashtunwali, which requires even an enemy to be given sanctuary if he asks. Though some of the rebels argue that the rules shouldn't apply to Dirty Communists who've learnt a single word of their language (nanawatai = sanctuary), the fact that he'd been left for dead by his comrades (and is willing to repair an RPG in order to blow them up in payback) is a significant factor in his defence.
  • In Cinderella (2015), when Cinderella is at her lowest, she's still ready to find a bowl of milk for the poor beggar-woman who turns up at her garden gate. That beggar turns out to be her fairy godmother.
  • National Lampoon's European Vacation: The Griswolds come to their distant relatives' house in Germany and have a big dinner and a warm place to sleep. It was the wrong house.
  • Gates of Paris: Why does the Artist continue to hide Barbier, a murderer and wanted fugitive, after finding Barbier hiding in his basement? "Because you're in my home."
  • The Hobbit:
    • Bilbo Baggins extends this to the dwarves when they first raid his pantry in An Unexpected Journey, despite the fact that the dwarves just barged into his house. Though that was less due to the boorishness of the dwarves and more to the fact that Gandalf tricked them into thinking they were invited.
    • Bilbo extends an invitation after The Battle of the Five Armies, by which point he is a beloved friend and comrade to all of them.
      Bilbo: If you're ever passing through Bag End, tea's at four, there's plenty of it, you're always welcome... Don't bother to knock.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy and his friends are invited to an Indian village and given more food than the rest of the village sees for a week. Willie, the newcomer, refuses to eat at first and tries to return it. Indy points out that her actions are merely insulting them and embarrassing him in the process.
  • It Could Happen to You: after Muriel wins her suit against Charlie and Yvonne, forcing them to return their share of the lottery winnings, Charlie and Yvonne meet in her diner, where they see a homeless man outside. Despite their losing the case and facing poverty as a result, they invite the homeless man in and feed him. The homeless man turns out to be Angel Dupree, a New York Post reporter (and narrator of the movie), who writes about his experience with Charlie and Yvonne in the Post, which inspires hundreds of New Yorkers to raise funds to help the couple.
  • In the John Wick films, one of the rules of the Continental is "no business on Continental grounds." This provides a safe environment for criminals and assassins to rest, eat, drink, meet, and get their weapons and equipment without having to worry about getting attacked. Of course, this rule gets violated as a plot point. In the first film, Perkins tries to kill John in his hotel room, and in response, Winston has her executed at the end of the film. In John Wick: Chapter 2, it's John himself who breaks the rule, killing Santino in the Continental when he goes there to hide. As a result, Winston declares John "excommunicado" and that any assassin now has the okay to kill him for his actions; the long friendship and deep respect Winston holds for him only earn the man in question a one-hour head start.
  • Kingdom of Heaven dramatizes a real-life example. After Raynald slaughters a passive Muslim caravan (including Saladin's sister), Saladin swears revenge. When he eventually captures Raynald and Guy, King of Jerusalem, he offers the latter water to quench his thirst. He refuses it and passes the cup to Raynald, who eagerly drinks it. Guy was being treated as a guest of Saladin, but Raynald was not, so Raynald was not allowed to drink any of the water under Saladin's rules. Raynald knew this and was intentionally throwing the tradition in his face.
    Raynald: I drink water for what it is. (drinks).
    Saladin: I did not give the cup to you.
    Raynald: No. My lord. (smiles mockingly).
    Saladin: [Brings out his sword and slashes Raynald's throat]
  • Maryada Ramanna, the 2010 Telugu remake of Our Hospitality, a houseguest discovers that his hosts are part of a rival faction.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Tracy is upset that her father is negotiating to marry her off to James Bond in exchange for supplying James with information regarding the whereabouts of Blofeld. Tracy confronts her father, insisting that he uphold his duties as James' host; "You always taught me a good host supplies his guest's needs. And without obligation."
  • Played for laughs in Buster Keaton's silent comedy Our Hospitality. His character accepts an invitation to dine with the family of a young woman he's met on a train, and discovers that they're involved in an ongoing blood feud with his own family (and thus him). Her father and brothers are unable to kill him while he's in their home so, as a title card wryly notes, Keaton attempts to become a "permanent guest" of theirs.
  • Romeo & Juliet (2013): Lord Capulet prevents Tybalt from picking a fight with Romeo because they're all on thin ice with the prince and harming a Montague under their own roof would cross that line.
  • In Sodom and Gomorrah, Hebrew leader Lot insists that any escaped slave from the title cities who sets foot in a Hebrew dwelling must be accepted as one of their own and given sanctuary, preventing the Sodomites from re-capturing them. The biggest sign that Sodom is corrupting the Hebrews rather than being redeemed by their presence comes when Ishmael tries to lead a slave revolt and find sanctuary in his fellow Hebrews' houses, only for them to bolt their doors en masse.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Chekhov calls Khan out on his violation.
    Chekhov: Captain Kirk was your host. You repaid his hospitality by trying to steal his ship and murder him!
  • Stealing Heaven: One reason why the affair between Abelard and Héloïse is illicit stems from this. Abelard is a guest of her uncle, living in his house. So "ruining" her is a serious breach of this.
  • In Straw Dogs, David finally takes a stand against a group of local toughs when they try to invade his home to abduct a man he's taken in. David fights off the invaders to protect the man, even though he knows that the man is probably a murderer.
  • In Troll 2, the father stresses the wonders of "typical country hospitality". It turns out that the country folk are actually evil goblins who want to eat our heroes.
  • In Zombieland, Bill Murray's idea of "west coast hospitality" involves smoking from the same hookah.

  • A variation of this occurs in the climax of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves; the Bandit Chieftain plans to kill Ali Baba by posing as a merchant and asking for shelter at his house. However, when Ali Baba offers him dinner, the chieftain says he cannot eat it because he cannot eat salt, due to health concerns. The real reason is an unwritten law in the Arabian world, that says you are not allowed to eat a man's food (salt has a special symbolic meaning, too) and then kill him. (Unfortunately for the villain, this makes the slave girl Morgiana suspicious, and she recognizes him; she is later able to slay him in the middle of a dance with daggers after the meal.)
  • In Beauty, the Beast's offense was breaking sacred hospitality by not offering shelter. However, he has learned his lesson and treats the eponymous beauty's father as a good host should. What takes him into the prisoner bit is when the father steals a rose. He had promised to try and get one for Beauty, y'see...
  • In A Brother's Price it is a plot point that the protagonist's family has to provide shelter for a wounded soldier because that is the law. They later give rooms to the relatives of the wounded soldier, reasoning that their mothers (who are absent for most of the plot) would be angry at them if they let the guests sleep in the barn. This is partly because it turns out the wounded soldier is actually a princess of the realm. The guests, on the other hand, abuse their hospitality by one of them planning to steal a kiss from the son of the house, and one successfully seducing him, which is a big deal in a world where word of this getting out would make him considered Defiled Forever. Luckily his family is open-minded.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel The Greater Good, Cain notes the poor hospitality of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Subverted in that to their cybernetic hosts their treatment is quite respectful.
  • In Andre Norton's Catseye, Troy is welcomed to a shelter in the Wild with a set formula clearly designed to formally convey hospitality.
  • The story The Cats of Ulthar concerns a rather nasty old couple who trap the cats owned by their neighbors and kill them. When a tribe of nomads stops for the night in Ulthar, the old couple break hospitality by kidnapping and murdering the pet kitten of one young boy. He makes a prayer to certain gods, and all the cats in Ulthar disappear for one day. They come back the next day, significantly fatter and unwilling to eat for several days. When the people of Ulthar realize they haven't seen the old couple in a while, they check on them... and find nothing but gnawed skeletons.
  • The poem The Christmas Guest follows a cobbler named Conrad who is told by an angel that the Lord (or Jesus, depending on which version you're reading) will be his guest for Christmas. Conrad makes his home ready but is interrupted three times: the first by a man with tattered shoes, who Conrad gives a new pair of shoes. The second is a beggar woman, who Conrad invites in to have a hot meal. The third is a lost child, who Conrad invites in, feeds, and then helps find their home. When the sun sets and Jesus has yet to appear, he despairs, only for the Lord to appear and say that he was the shoeless man, the beggar, and the lost child.
  • In Cooking With Wild Game, the heroine's Establishing Character Moment is that she invites a lost boy into her home, despite him being foreign, seemingly crazy, and having nothing with which to repay her. It shows both her compassion and her tribe's culture: they've lost a lot of lives to the Forest surrounding their village, so they have no intention of losing another one. Even if he is a total stranger.
  • Referenced in The Count of Monte Cristo, where the Count is noticeably unwilling to dine at Albert's home. While he gives other excuses, the explanation is to the effect that he's familiar with the importance of hospitality in Arab tradition and knows that it wouldn't be right to revenge himself on them if he shared their food. It's how Mercedes gets her first hint that the Count doesn't have her husband's best interests at heart, since he refuses food she herself gives him.
    • This is also one of the reasons why he gives extravagant gifts (as well as being part of his persona and to ingratiate himself with people) — he wants to be in nobody's debt. Whenever someone tries to give him a gift, he gives them a more valuable one to even things out.
    • Caderousse's Moral Event Horizon is taking advantage of this trope to murder and rob a wealthy stranger staying (at Caderousse's own insistence) the night in his house. Compounding the crime's seriousness is the fact that said stranger had actually travelled there to trade with him — Caderousse is simply driven by Greed.
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air, the commodore welcomes Molly to the hospitality of their house.
  • Discworld:
    • The D'regs have very strong laws to show hospitality to a guest for three days. In Jingo, "71-Hour Ahmed" got his name when he broke this law by killing his host (who happened to be a wanted poisoner) an hour before the three days were up; another character comments that it wouldn't have mattered so much if he had just waited the extra hour. Thing was, Ahmed knew the killer would pounce the instant Sacred Hospitality ran out (he was bound to it as well); Ahmed didn't want to give him the opportunity.
    • Barbarian heroes have an ... idiosyncratic approach to this, as described in Interesting Times. They see nothing wrong with inviting their enemies to dinner, getting them drunk, and then slaughtering them because frankly, that's the enemies' own fault for not expecting it. But they're horrified by the idea someone would poison a meal they'd prepared for their enemies, because that's not even giving them a chance.
  • According to The Divine Comedy, betrayal of one's guest or host is such a dire sin that it not only gets you sent to the Ninth Circle (lowest level) of Hell (a frozen lake with Satan himself frozen in the middle), but especially egregious offenders actually go there before they die — while a demon takes over the living body. In fact, not only is it at the lowest level, but those who betray their guests or hosts are said to be the second-worst kind of traitor, second only to traitors to their benefactors, worse than those who betray their country or family. This is explained because while one does not choose your family or country, those under the bonds of hospitality enter it of their own free will, making its breaking especially heinous. Violators of hospitality are completely frozen in the lake, except for their faces (traitors to family are frozen to their necks, traitors to country are frozen to their heads, and traitors to benefactors are completely encased in the ice and contorted into various positions — except for the three worst traitors, Judas, Cassius, and Brutus, who are being chewed constantly by Satan's three mouths).
  • In the Dragaera series, the Dragonlord traditions of hospitality are like this. It's a significant plot point in Jhereg, where an absconding crime lord gets himself invited to stay at the home of a powerful Dragonlord, knowing that his host is honor-bound to protect him for enough time for his ploy to come to fruition. Fortunately, the protagonists are able to maneuver him into violating his own honor as a guest, which makes him fair game.
  • Referenced in Dragon Bones: Ward says something like "Welcome, traveler, to the hearth of Hurog" to an escaped slave, which he knows is an ancient phrase with which he acknowledges her guest status, which binds him to treat her like a guest, and, implicitly, also protect her from those who wish to re-enslave her. She reacts kind of rudely, apparently ignorant of the implications of his words.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Guest right in shunha households (and one can assume sonha households) ensures that a guest be treated as an honorary member of the family for the duration of their stay.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, even vampires can be taken seriously with hospitality. Of course, they tend to aim for Plausible Deniability instead of just not harming their guests.note  It's all down to the most powerful members of the supernatural community being a few hundred years behind the times and having an Old World mentality. The various supernatural groups also have a treaty detailing diplomacy and hospitality and various other aspects of supernaturals dealing with each other. Also, hospitality means something. Any being's home has a magical barrier at the door referred to as the threshold. Crossing the threshold without being invited in means leaving a chunk of your power at the door if they can enter at all. How much power they lose is determined by how much the dwelling is a home. Dresden's basement bachelor apartment, inhabited for not much more than ten years, doesn't have much stopping power, but a friend's home, inhabited by the same family for about a hundred years, has a hell of a kick.
    • Upon fleeing from two Red Court Vampire assassins and their pet Giant Mook; Harry runs through an unexplored region of the NeverNever and they all drop into the freaking throne room of the Lord of The Wild Hunt. Right as said near-godly being is about to execute them all, the Erl-King ironically refers to them as guests. Harry immediately grabs at that, and thanks the Fey-Lord for granting them his hospitality. The Erl-King is amused and impressed by his quick thinking, despite the Loophole Abuse. He accepts Harry as a "guest", saying that he can hunt him another day.
      • Of course, being a guest of The Fair Folk has its own dangers. The Erl-King points out that, as a host, it would be within his right as a host to keep Harry as a guest for a few centuries. And since the Red Court contingent claim Harry brought them there on purpose for the Erl-king to kill them for Harry while Harry said it was an accident, the Erl-king decides the best way to deal with these conflicting claims is let the sword decide and make them battle a duel. Winner will receive the hospitality, the loser will be treated as an invader to his land. Erl-king notes that if Harry wins and the Red Court tried to save their people, it would be an insult that would draw all the Fae (Winter, Summer, and Wylde) into attacking the Red Court.
    • And in the event a Fae enters a home uninvited they are still bound by the laws of hospitality. They cannot leave the home in a worse place than when they arrived, hence the brownies being able to enter and clean Harry's home, provided he never speak of them. Even if the host attacks the Fae, the Fae cannot respond with hostile action. Most would simply leave the home and when the person is not inside the home any longer, respond for the previous action.
    • Also, certain entities, like the inhabitants of Faerie are essentially bound by their language and betrayal of the Laws of Hospitality border on conceptually impossible for them. Getting them to promise their hospitality, however...
      • The Laws strictly bind the Faerie and all members of their Courts. We see a key instance of what happens if someone tries to break the Laws in Cold Days. Also, even when the hospitality is granted, Exact Words very heavily come into play (The Fae follow their rules at any cost, and are magically compelled to never lie, but that means there are no better Rules Lawyers and Loophole Abusers. In fact, one of those rules is “there is no spirit of the law, only its letter.” As such, beware harming or insulting one, or trapping one into actions they’d really be against taking - you’re not safe just because here and now they find themselves forbidden to vaporize you with a magic blast. The moment you’re no longer covered under hospitality or have angered them enough to make you suffer in every way the rules and/or their promises don’t explicitly prohibit, expect your life to get considerably worse and considerably shorter.)
    • In Turn Coat, Harry is hiding Morgan at his house. Pretty much every time he leaves the man there alone, Harry comes back to find Morgan about to kill someone because of some misunderstanding. Harry manages to shame him by pointing out that he would not only expect more courteous behavior from a Demon, but he would also get it as well.
    • Things get tricky for Harry in Skin Game when he finds himself in the hospitality of Hades, Lord of the Underworld. This happens as Harry is there, with others, to steal from one of Hades' vaults. However, things aren't as they appear as Hades knew Harry and crew were coming and believes any who can bypass his three gates defending the vault have earned some treasure. That said, he won't stop the security system if a fight breaks out. It isn't his place to intervene. So, in the end, Harry has a nice chat and glass of wine with the Lord of the Underworld, discussing a range of topics, and Harry nearly violating hospitality anyway by commenting on the dickish behavior of Hades' kin. Hades warns him against making further comments, no matter how justified they are.
    • Despite his mentor Ebenezar's passionate hatred of vampires, Harry is able to get him to back down from attacking Thomas by bringing up that they are guests in his house in Peace Talks. Ebenezar reluctantly backs down.
    • When Harry does jobs for Strength of a River in His Shoulders he normally meets him in a forest since River Shoulders doesn't like coming into the city (for obvious reasons). Even though they meet around a campfire it's Harry's campfire and as such he's obligated to serve as a host and share food, drink, and tobacco. Harry notes that this isn't actually necessary since they get on well but even so, going through the motions of Sacred Hospitality makes both of them more comfortable.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Eutopia}", Iason tells the Voivode that Ottar's anger led him to attack Iason, in violation of sacred hospitality. To be sure, he doesn't tell what he had done to provoke anger.
  • Malbecco from The Faerie Queene is portrayed as a horrid, shrewd villain for refusing to let random knights into his home and even our heroic Britomart is okay with threatening to burn the man's manor down in retaliation for forcing them to find shelter in a pig's pen.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Firebird features the Bannik, spirit of the steam bath house, who react favorably to humble and respectful guests, so long as the "third bath turn is given to him".
  • In one novel by Alan Furst, an OSS agent in the Balkans is sheltered by a fishing village. Sometime later the villagers discover that left on the shore for them is a feast (smuggled in by the OSS of course) with a note left to them thanking them. The villagers thereupon wonder what fabulously rich refugee they had obtained the gratitude of.
  • The Uplands have an idiosyncratic version in Gifts. Guests are to be given useful work to do so that they don't feel like bums. But when you get an invite, you have to accept it at some point or give major offense, and if you're dealing with a family that has a particularly nasty gift, giving offense is a very bad idea.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road, Oscar is shocked to find his host's wife and daughter waiting in his bed. He politely turns them down and sends them away, not wanting to betray his host. The next morning, his party is rudely ejected from the home. When he tells Star about what happened, she is horrified. Custom in the land they are traveling is that it is insulting to refuse the sexual favors of the women of the household. Their host had been insulted that Oscar would refuse his women when they offered themselves to him.
  • In the Chivalric Romance Guy of Warwick, Guy is an earl's guest when it is revealed that the earl's son died in a quarrel with a stranger — Guy. The earl, breaching hospitality, attacks him, but in his escape, Guy gives the dismounted earl his horse in return for his dinner.
  • This is why Talon Karrde wouldn't turn in Han Solo and Lando Calrissian when the Empire came by in Heir to the Empire ; Lando and Han had "sat at our table and eaten our food". When it's eventually found out, Thrawn is less than understanding, and his retaliation ends up alienating Karrde and his allies from their previous neutrality toward the Empire. Karrde actually takes it a few steps further: Han and Lando were dropping by because they'd helped one of Karrde's associates avoid local law enforcement, that associate considered himself in their debt, and to Karrde, an associate's debt is the organization's debt. Karrde also states this trope does not apply to Luke Skywalker, who Karrde is accidentally holding captive, since Karrde never wanted (and indeed, attempted to avoid) Skywalker being his "guest" in the first place.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, when the dwarves first show up, Bilbo is afraid that he doesn't have enough food, because he knows his duty: if there's not enough to go around, it's the host who must go short. This is despite the fact that the dwarves weren't invited to Bilbo's home. To the dwarves' credit, they thought they were invited thanks to Gandalf's manipulations. When they found they weren't, the dwarves did the dishes after the meal. At the end of the story, after Bilbo has left the dwarves — both sides have assured each other that hospitality will be extended in the future — he gives the elf king a gift because Bilbo had eaten the king's food while skulking about his halls.
    Then the dwarves bowed low before their Gate, but words stuck in their throats. "Good-bye and good luck, wherever you fare!" said Balin at last. "If ever you visit us again, when our halls are made fair once more, then the feast shall indeed be splendid!"
    "If ever you are passing my way," said Bilbo, "don't wait to knock! Tea is at four; but any of you are welcome at any time!"
  • The Trojan War described in The Iliad of Homer:
    • The war results from a violation of xenia. Paris was a guest of Menelaus but seriously transgressed the bounds of xenia by abducting his host's wife, Helen. Therefore the Achaeans were required by duty to Zeus to avenge this transgression, which as a violation of xenia was an insult to Zeus's authority.
    • Two heroes meet during the battle and realize that their grandfathers had once been host and guest. So they trade armor. That way they can ensure that they do not kill each other and so infringe on the obligations of xenia.
  • In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Daughter, the Leanan Sidhe invokes this to assure Meghan and her friends that the food is not enchanted. Not that the rest of the fairies seem to care.
  • At the beginning of Ivanhoe, Cedric the Saxon orders an old Jew admitted to his hall over the protests of his (only slightly more welcome Norman) guests, using very nearly the exact words from the Abraham example. On the other hand, none of his retainers make room for the old man to sit down.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster story "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy", Tuppy maintains that he wishes to give an Irish water spaniel to his host's daughter merely out of gratitude for their hospitality.
  • This trope appears to be in strong effect in Kino's Journey, in which nearly every country welcomes any travelers from the outside world as guests of honour and gives them free food, lodgings, and guided tours at the drop of a hat. Apparently, travelers in this world are so rare that this doesn't unduly tax their resources, but it's still amazing how many countries maintain luxurious hotels ready just in case a traveller comes along every few years and needs a place to stay.
  • In David Gemmell's Legend, the Nadir tradition prohibits killing a guest at your own campfire. This is used twice during the siege as a form of parley: Ulric sets up a campfire to have a chat with Druss early on, and after Druss's death most of the remaining protagonist figures visit the Nadir during their celebrations and are, after a few false starts, treated as friends, even though the next morning they'll be trying to kill each other again.
  • In The Legend Of The Wandering King, which is written in the style of an Arabian folktale, the homeless protagonist is given food and shelter by a merchant. Only after about five months have passed in this fashion does the merchant even begin to suggest he stop mooching. (Luckily, in keeping with narrative tradition, the merchant is eventually rewarded for his generosity.)
  • In The Lodger, even as Mr. Sleuth starts to look more and more suspiciously likely as a suspect, his landlady is a gracious host.
  • In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, Laura, Sophia, and their husbands abuse hospitality freely.
    • A rude return to Edward's aunt's invitation.
      We returned a suitable answer to this affectionate Note, and after thanking her for her kind invitation, assured her that we would certainly avail ourselves of it, whenever we might have no other place to go to. Tho' certainly nothing could, to any reasonable Being, have appeared more satisfactory than so grateful a reply to her invitation, yet I know not how it was, but she was certainly capricious enough to be displeased with our behavior
    • At MacDonald's, they persuade his daughter to run off with a fortune hunter and then rob him.
  • Referenced in The Name of the Wind: Bast threatens the scribe, saying "You have eaten at my table," implying that this created a magical obligation between them. Since Bast is a fairy, he probably means this literally.
  • Nero Wolfe:
    • He may be an unrepentant misanthropic recluse, but Wolfe's code of honor means that he will be in every way the impeccable host if someone calls upon his hospitality. Over the course of the series, he's hosted murder suspects, witnesses, and clients for dinner, invited them to view his orchids, and even given them a room to sleep in overnight should they need it. As well as a matter of honour, however, it also serves a double purpose in that it enables him to keep someone who has every reason to want to run as far as they can get (such as someone suspected of or guilty of murder) right where a close eye can be kept on them.
    • He also upholds the duty of the guest on the few times that he's obliged to leave his own home. In one novel, when he discovers that one of the other guests of the family he's staying with is the murderer he's looking for, he arranges spurious reasons for all of the family members to leave the house and then tells the murderer that he's onto them. The murderer flees, right into a police roadblock that Wolfe set up ahead of time. This is all so that his hosts are neither discomfited by having the murderer arrested in their home nor are put in the position of having to violate Sacred Hospitality by turning him over to the police themselves. It also serves to thwart a particularly obnoxious Obstructive Bureaucrat by embarrassing him when he shows up to arrest the murderer at the house, unprepared for Wolfe's shenanigans. In another novel, he makes a point of apologising to a character for engaging in a commission to investigate a murder (from a hated rival no less) after having previously accepted the man's hospitality as his guest.
    • In keeping with all this, it's generally not a good idea to try murdering someone who is enjoying Wolfe's hospitality or has come to him seeking help, especially while they're in Wolfe's house, as he will take this as a personal insult and stop at nothing to expose and ruin you in response.
    • Played with in Prisoner's Base, in which a mysterious young woman arrives at Wolfe's home asking to stay there for a week without any intention of revealing who she is or why she wants to be there, only for her guardian to coincidentally show up later and (without seeing her) offer to pay Wolfe to find her whereabouts. Wolfe is unamused at the situation and doesn't react with his usual hospitality, essentially giving the woman a Morton's Fork choice between either paying an exorbitant bribe to stay under his roof (essentially the amount her guardian was willing to pay to find her) or giving her a day's head start before he accepts her guardian's offer to find her. It appears to be a combination of not wanting a woman sleeping under his roof; being insulted at the rude and high-handed way she went about treating his home as if it were a hotel (essentially, she was violating the responsibilities of a guest); sensing an easy payday either way; and the fact that this isn't Ancient Greece and hotels for the woman's purpose are plentiful in New York City. When she refuses his demand and leaves, only to be murdered, he also isn't especially insulted by her death, likely because she wasn't hiring him in his capacity as an investigator and her murder was unrelated to her business with him, meaning there is no personal or professional insult for him to feel.
  • In Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, General Tilney invites the protagonist into his house because he wants her to marry his son. One day, he suddenly throws her out with a lame excuse and sends her away in a public coach with no attending servant. (This doesn't sound so horrible today, but back then it meant deliberate insult.) The reason for all that was, he found out she wasn't as rich as he thought. His violation of Sacred Hospitality is how the reader fully sees his true colors.
  • In Andre Norton's Ordeal in Otherwhere, the Wyverns make Charis welcome and offer her a place to sleep.
    • Later in Forerunner Foray, Turan tells his household to provide for the guards who brought them back safely.
  • In the Urban Fantasy setting of Pact, ancient laws of hospitality are enforced upon practitioners by the animist nature of the setting—if a spirit (and there are always spirits) sees a practitioner violate hospitality (attacking a guest, or attacking someone that is your host, usually), they'll exact a toll and spread word to other spirits, which influence the world subtly against that practitioner and generally gives them bad Karma. Blake uses this to protect himself by inviting all his enemies over, preventing them from simply raiding his apartment.
  • Marco Polo wrote that during his travels he came across the district of Kamul. When strangers arrived, the male head of a household would leave his own house and allow the stranger to live there as if it were his own, and as if all the females of the household were his own wives. The people of Kamul felt so strongly about this custom that when the Khan banned it, they sent a delegation to ask him to reverse his decision, which he did. Pretty lousy for the wives, though...
  • Appears among the Taghreb & Soninke cultures of the Dread Empire in A Practical Guide to Evil: people sharing a fire under the sacred law of hospitality may not harm each other until morning. It's probably only due to Sacred Hospitality that their nation can function at all, with everyone in it being Evil.
  • In C. S. Lewis's Prince Caspian, Trufflehunter, Trumpkin, and Nikabrik take in Caspian when they find him unconscious outside their home. When he wakes up and they find out he's King Miraz's nephew, Nikabrik wants to kill him, but the others say that if they were going to do that they should have done it first thing; now, it would be murdering a guest.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Father Christmas insists on the elf queen not evicting Mephisto from the table because he is his guest. Indeed, such is his hospitality that Miranda accepts a gift from one of The Fair Folk, knowing that Father Christmas would not allow it to be baneful under his roof.
  • Rai Kirah has a variant: among the Derzhi Proud Warrior Race, debts of honour between a host and guest are forgiven when the guest accepts the host's food and drink. Prince Aleksander exploits this by secretly executing a man for treason minutes before his entire clan attends Aleksander's feast, so the clan unknowingly forfeits its right to seek retribution.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle-Master of Hed, Morgan recalls the tale of Ingris, who refused Har hospitality and was cursed for it.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms:
    • How do we know that Cao Cao is a villainous individual? He violates Sacred Hospitality quite badly. His paranoia has him murder his hosts after he overhears them planning to kill something despite having been put up as an honoured guest. The thing in question? Their pig to provide meat for the table. His justification upon discovering his error speaks volumes about his character. "Better I betray the world than it betray me!"
    • Later, Cao Cao's father was murdered by underlings of Tao Qian, the governor of Xuzhou while they were supposed to be keeping said father safe from brigands.
    • Lu Bu takes over Xuzhou from Liu Bei while being his guest.
    • Liu Bei once sought sanctuary with a man named Liu An, who took Sacred Hospitality so seriously that he murdered his own wife and used her flesh to make a meal when there was otherwise nothing to eat.
  • Sandokan: Subverted by lord Guillonk: when he learns that the guest he had healed was actually Sandokan he kicked him out of his house and prepared an ambush against him. Sandokan seems to play it straight: while never tested on it he knows well the code and took offense on the ambush (only the ambush: as a pirate, he was Guillonk's enemy, and having fully recovered he admitted he was fair game for being kicked out).
  • In Robert E. Howard's "Shadows In Zamboula," Conan the Barbarian is warned about the Inn of No Return by someone with whom he had stayed for many months.
  • In Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Triumph, McCandless and Sharpe are put up by Pohlmann after they escort Simone there. When McCandless is shot and his horses stolen, he reminds Pohlmann they were his guests. Pohlmann is apologetic and has the man killed.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:
    • A green giant shows up in King Arthur's court and proclaims that he will let any knight cut off his head if he then pledges to have the same done to him in a year. Naturally, no one takes him up on the offer, so the giant calls them cowards, prompting Gawain to agree. Once the giant is decapitated, he picks up his head and rides off, telling Gawain he'll see him in a year.
    • After Gawain sets off to honor the contract, he finds lodgings in a lord's house, where he and the lord make an agreement: the lord will go out hunting for the next three days, and they will exchange everything they obtained that day.
    • The next morning, the lord's wife starts coming on to Gawain, but he refuses to accept anything but a kiss on the cheek, which he dutifully gives to the lord that evening. The same thing happens the next day, but on the third day, the wife also gives him a magic belt, which he doesn't hand over.
    • When Gawain goes to face the giant, he goes for Gawain's neck twice without hurting him, then gives him a nick on the third try, because of the belt he 'forgot' to mention. The giant is then revealed to be the lord and the whole thing a Secret Test of Character for Gawain.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, hospitality is such a central part of Westerosi morality that people will trust even their most deadly enemies to hold by it. It is mentioned in "The World of Ice and Fire" that men in the North hold this as the most sacred law.
    • Jaime Lannister breaks it early on when he pushes Bran, a son of his host Eddard Stark, out of the window when Bran catches him having sex with his sister Cersei.
    • When Robb Stark returns to Walder Frey after violating his marriage pact to one of the Frey daughters, Catelyn urges the importance of requesting bread and salt, since that would make Robb a guest and free from fear of reprisal during his stay. It doesn't work. In a shocking violation of Sacred Hospitality, the Freys and their secret allies, the Boltons, slaughter their guests in what is later called "The Red Wedding". Even their newfound allies are sickened by their actions and the Freys become The Friend Nobody Likes. This even has further implications, as it basically lowers the (already low) morale of the entire realm, as it was considered the one rule that even the warring lords would stick to. When it becomes clear that they won't, and won't be held accountable for it, the number of people violating sacred hospitality, or terrified that their guests might do so, skyrockets following the Red Wedding, and the Freys are gradually picked off in retribution for this.
    • Lord Wyman Manderly, kicking off his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, gets retaliation for the above breach of hospitality against his family's beloved former liege lords, the Starks, which also resulted in the death of one of his sons (Wendel Manderly) when he cooks three Freys that are his guests into "pork" pies to serve to their kinsmen without their knowledge at a feast to celebrate the marriage of Ramsay Bolton and a fake Arya Stark. He waits, however, until they leave his home, with gifts that formally symbolize their parting. Fearing that the pies are poison, his enemies wait until Manderly eats them first, which he does with gusto.
      • Manderly also uses Loophole Abuse earlier, as there Ain't No Rule that says you can't kill your guests after they've left your presence, especially as you've given them parting gifts to mark their leaving — a pair of fast horses that encourage the Freys to ride ahead of Manderly's slow-moving caravan so they can be ambushed away from witnesses.
    • Illyrio shows an unusual, perhaps idiosyncratic version when a depressed Tyrion is a guest in the Free Cities: when his guest plans suicide by eating a poisonous mushroom, Illyrio openly offers him a mushroom dish that night at dinner. When the guest wryly notes that serving poison to your guests is hardly hospitable, Illyrio replies that if a guest desires to die then it's his responsibility as a gracious host to put them out of their misery. Once Tyrion considers that and decides not to eat the mushroom dish, Illyrio eats some of it, demonstrating that he wasn't actually serving poison at his dinner table and that Tyrion doesn't want to die quite as badly as he thought he did.
    • The Tyrells break guest rights when they murder Joffrey at his wedding to Margaery Tyrell. Unlike the example a few entries above, however, no one knows it was them. Instead, the blame is placed on Tyrion, in part due to coincidence, in part due to bad blood between the victim and supposed perpetrator, in part due to having been appointed the victim's cupbearer (as a mockery), but mainly because it offers several members of his family a convenient way to finally kill him after years of trying in vain to be rid of him. Unfortunately for them, this scapegoating ultimately ends with Tyrion murdering Tywin in cold blood and fleeing for Essos, and marks a point in the series where the Crown descends into utter chaos, which the Tyrells use to increase their status.
    • Sacred Hospitality looms large when the Night's Watch stay at the wildling Craster's hold, due to mutual dislike. The Night's Watch presents a gift during their first stay, and Mormont grudgingly defers to Craster's demands to keep Craster as one of their allies beyond the Wall, of which they have only a few. When the Watch returns, however, a few members violate the rules by demanding better food and eventually attacking Craster. Shocked members of the Watch attack the violators, resulting in a deadly melee.
      • In a slight twist, the first time he's at Craster's, Jon specifically chooses to avoid accepting food from Craster or sleeping by his fire because he doesn't want to be bound by rules of hospitality to Craster as he is morally opposed to Craster's terrible treatment of people.
    • Sacred Hospitality is also taken seriously by the wildlings. Jon Snow is a member of the Night's Watch and when he is captured by wildlings and taken to their King Mance Rayder, Mance assures Jon that he has Guest Right and therefore, he won't be harmed that night as they have shared shelter and food that day.
    • The legend of the Rat Cook is related to the reader just to demonstrate how seriously the Westerosi take Guest Right (as they call it). The Rat Cook was a cook in the Night's Watch. One day, a king who had previously insulted the cook comes to the Wall and, as retribution, the cook killed the prince (also at the Wall), put him in a pie, and served it to the king. The storyteller notes that the Rat Cook was punished by the godsnote  not for the murder, regicide, or cannibalism — "for a man has a right to vengeance" — but for violating Guest Right. This story inspires Wyman Manderly's own actions.
    • Tyrion violates Guest Right in a different fashion, by sending "emissaries" to Riverrun that were actually agents trying to spring Jaime from captivity. Several castle guards were killed in the attempt, along with any chance Tyrion might have in the future of being assumed to negotiate in good faith.
    • Though it's unclear whether or not there really are gods who enforce the Guest Right, all of the above who have violated Guest Right end up suffering a great deal later in the story, whether or not other people know they violated the Guest Right. The Freys are hated by all and are slowly being picked off one by one, courtesy of Lady Stoneheart and Wyman Manderly. Manderly himself is suspected of being behind the disappearance of the Freys he did murder, but no one can prove it. He is slashed across the neck during a fight by one of those who suspect him but survives. Jaime Lannister loses a hand (With killing the Tully guards being a major factor in why, since it caused him to be chained to a wall and his condition weakened until Brienne could defeat him), and Cersei Lannister's sanity begins to slip. The Night's Watch mutineers seem to survive, but Coldhands kills them as they attempt to make south for the Wall. The Tyrells don't suffer immediately, but Loras suffers a gruesome injury in the battle of Dragonstone, and the last seen of him is that he is in grave condition. Tyrion, meanwhile, has completely lost his wealth and status and is now a universally despised alcoholic wreck.
    • Historically, Fire & Blood has Manfryd Mooton, Lord of Maidenpool, face a grim choice during the Dance of the Dragons: if he does not deliver the head of the dragonrider girl Nettles to King's Landing and Queen Rhaenyra, he will be denounced and attainted as a traitor, and sentenced to death as well. The trouble is that Nettles, along with Prince Daemon Targaryen, is already in his castle, and therefore under the protection of Guest Right—meaning that if Lord Manfryd does deliver Nettles' head, he and his house will be forever cursed. He and his maester eventually decide to tip the couple off so they might flee, and this becomes the impetus behind his decision to switch sides from Rhaenyra's faction to those still loyal to King Aegon II.
    • One of Dorne's most infamous actions was when, during Daeron the Young Dragon's Conquest, the Dornish called for parley and proceeded to murder him, half his Kingsguard and several of his lords under a peace banner. That they managed to not only go unscathed for such betrayal (because Baelor, Daeron's brother and successor, commanded a stop to the attacks and made peace with Dorne), but that they later gained great influence in court during Daeron II's reign, was one of the causes of the First Blackfyre Rebellion. However, the current generations of House Dorne have suffered terrible losses thanks in large part to their ties with the Targaryens.
  • In the Spiral Arm series, the Terran Brotherhood follows the custom of granting sacred hospitality with bread and salt; once it has been given, they will offer a guest no violence. The Fudir notes, however, that it's still not a good idea to anger them even after they've granted hospitality. They might allow you to leave unharmed, but they aren't above sending assassins in pursuit immediately afterwards.
  • Spock's World, a Star Trek Expanded Universe novel, holds that this is one of the tenets of Vulcan society, with such rules as allowing a guest to be refreshed with water before any conversation takes place. However, such rules do not extend to neighbors (as they are seen to be competition for the scarce resources).
  • In the first SPQR series novel The King's Gambit, the murderer's violation of sacred hospitality provides Decius with the clue he needs to understand the entire underlying conspiracy.
  • In Neil Gaiman's Stardust, when one witch pledges to treat another as if she were her guest, the other takes it as a perfect promise.
  • Given that the universe of Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms runs off the Theory of Narrative Causality in the form of the Tradition, it should come as no surprise that Sacred Hospitality and the loopholes associated with it are more or less natural laws.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Thuvia refuses to let Cathoris defend her honor after Asok's behavior on the grounds he is her father's guest.
  • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol, two agents claim to be Woden and Thundor and to watch over the family henceforth as they leave — in an obvious nod to the many myths.
  • Temeraire: Kaneko swore an oath to host any lost traveler he meets as though they were a member of his family. This proves a Morton's Fork when he finds Will Laurence unconscious by the road: he's bound by duty to give Laurence up for arrest and probable execution, but bound by his vow to protect him. While he's stalling for time, Laurence escapes.
  • This is present in Victoria. While the Nazi emissary Halsing visits Rumford, he is treated as his personal guest and reciprocates appropriately. It is only after he is formally turned over to the authorities that he becomes a prisoner in the usual sense— and consequently, also only then that he begins to work on effecting his escape.
  • Les Voyageurs Sans Souci: As travelling across the countryside, Sébastien and Agathe start feeling tired and hungry. Both kids land near a cottage and walk towards an old farmer, who readily asks that pair of strange and strangely-dressed kids if they are starving. Sébastien and Agathe nod, and the old woman is happy to feed them and give them directions.
  • The Wandering Inn: The Faeries, who basically live for annoying and tricking people, stop their mischievousness altogether while bound by rules of hospitality.
  • In the Wayfairers book series, the alien race called the Harmagians have a culture heavily based on the rules of sacred hospitality, with rudeness to or from a guest being considered the greatest insult imaginable.
  • In Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged wonders about the hospitality that he had heard of in certain islands when he actually reaches them. He finds the friend, Vetch, whose initial reaction is surprise and fear because he does not recognize him. Vetch immediately apologizes for that and has him stay in his own home.
    • Sacred hospitality actually appears pretty deeply ingrained in Earthsea, in both the Hardic and Kargad lands. Despite Ged's private gripe, his boat was provisioned for free on the island where people thought he might be some kind of demon, and the innkeeper who told him their island already had a wizard (who turned out to be his friend) gave him free lodging, food, and ale. Staff-carrying wizards almost never pay for such things, or for ship's passage. There is only one story where a character uses a fake staff to take advantage of this. But while hospitality to wizards is mere common sense, there are many examples in the stories of non-wizards (or wizards in disguise) getting the benefit of sacred hospitality.
  • In Zero Sight the principles of Xenia are taken seriously enough that a magus gives up on killing a vampire when she realizes she accidentally offered the vampire her hospitality.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7: In the episode "Death-Watch", it is stated that the Teal-Vandor Convention will protect guests from external enemies as long as the guest obeys the local laws.
  • Cadfael:
    • One of the first things Father Radulfus does when he arrives is to scold Prior Robert for arguing with a visitor on Abbey grounds—he doesn't know what the argument is about, but he won't have his brothers being rude to guests.
    • "The Devil's Novice" opens with an obnoxious diplomat imposing on his second cousins, the Apsleys, for a night's lodging. He insults their home, gloats about how being a monk treats him to status and finery, and seduces the eldest son's fiance. But because sacred hospitality is so important, they deal with it—apart from the father remarking "God forgive me" for being so glad that a guest has left.
  • Come Dine With Me is a Reality Show entirely designed around guests breaking the laws of hospitality: people are invited to each other's houses, waited on hand and foot, and then encouraged to bitch and moan about the slightest flaws in the food or entertainment. While most people have some heated arguments and forgive and forget when the competition is ended (kinda - contestants state they'd try not to keep in contact if they really hated each other) one guest was heavily criticized both on the show and across the country after he kicked everyone out of his house after losing the competition. Have a look here!
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Westeros treats hospitality religiously. When formally welcoming a guest, they are given protection in the Light of the Seven. To break the guest right is considered to be unthinkable.
      • The law is flagrantly broken by Walder Frey at the Red Wedding massacre. During it, King Robb, his pregnant wife Queen Talisa, his mother Lady Catelyn, most of his bannermen and men-at-arms are murdered following the marriage feast and bedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. His actions ultimately cause the destruction of himself, his children, and his entire house at the hands of Arya Stark.
      • Symbolically, Bran tells a story of a man who was turned into a rat by the gods for killing a guest beneath his roof and serving him to his father in pie, before it transitions to Walder, who had just arranged the aforementioned Red Wedding. Part of House Frey's ultimate punishment three seasons later is Arya cooking Walder's sons, Lothar and Black Walder (who had respectively killed Talisa and Catelyn), into pie and serving them to Walder.
      • Lady Olenna also breaks this law by poisoning King Joffrey while a guest at his wedding. Like Walder Frey, her house also comes to death and ruin, at the hands of Cersei and Jaime - although they did not know of her murder of Joffrey until after they had already destroyed her house and poisoned her.
    • When Jon Snow plans to murder Mance Rayder to disperse the wildlings, Mance is cunning enough to offer him food and drink, which makes the decision much harder for Jon.
      Mance: Are you capable of that, Jon Snow? Killing a man in his own tent when he's just offered you peace? Is that what the Night's Watch is now? Is that what you are?
    • In the first episode of season 7 "Dragonstone", Arya encounters a group of recently conscripted and friendly Lannister soldiers. She attempts to demur their offer of food and wine since she doesn't want to be bound by Guest Right in case she has to kill them, but the unknowing soldiers insist on sharing their meal with her.
  • House of the Dragon: In the season 1 finale, Borros Baratheon prevents Aemond Targaryen from harming Lucerys Velaryon, who had come to Storm's End to demand Borros fulfill his father's fealty to Rhaenyra Targaryen, only to learn that Borros had cast his lot with Aegon II. While they are enemies, both Aemond and Lucerys came to him as emissaries, and he won't allow them to shed blood on his watch. However, Aemond continues to hunt Lucerys once they are away from Storm's End, which eventually leads to the latter's death.
  • In NCIS: Los Angeles, Sam once was saved while operating in Afghanistan as a SEAL by villagers who offered him hospitality. Years later, when Taliban extremists seek revenge against said villagers (who had immigrated to the US), Sam points out to them that the tradition of hospitality predated the region becoming Muslim, so the Taliban agents were in the wrong in this matter (they ignore him).
  • A flashback in Highlander reveals that Duncan once ended up shipwrecked in Japan during the country's isolationist period, when any Westerner is supposed to be killed on sight. Instead, the man who finds him, a local samurai lord, takes him in as an honored guest and even has his daughter perform a tea ceremony for him. He also explains that, should Duncan leave his home, he would be captured and executed. Naturally, Duncan chuckles at the thought, until the samurai explains that he would be executed by beheading (which kills immortals too). The samurai later reveals that the Emperor has found out about Duncan and what the lord has done and has voiced his displeasure. Basically, the samurai is now honor-bound to commit Seppuku to erase that displeasure. He asks Duncan, as a close friend, to perform the final blow that would sever his neck. After an initial shock, Duncan solemnly agrees to perform the rite. He ends up keeping the katana, which is his signature sword in the series and has watched over the samurai's family since then.
  • Ozark: Darlene Snell executes a high-ranking member of a Mexican cartel in her living room, causing her hillbilly husband to object... because he was their guest.
  • Rome. After Julius Caesar's assassination, Marc Antony turns up at Brutus' house to arrange a truce. No one seriously believes that Antony will stick to any agreement, so after Antony steps outside so they can discuss the matter, the other conspirators urge Brutus to kill Antony while they have the chance. Brutus refuses to kill a guest in his home, whereupon his mother points out that Antony isn't in their home, he's waiting outside on the street for their decision. Brutus is then shown stepping out onto the embrace Antony, signifying he's accepted their truce, which doesn't stop Antony from cutting the throat of a man who tried to murder him earlier. Then again, they were on the street.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Tua'than consider any person who shares their food and fires to be their people, defending them peacefully if they must.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Greek mythology is full of examples. Zeus himself was patron of hospitality (as well as most other social laws), so breaking Sacred Hospitality, either by host or guest, would incur his fury.
    • Sisyphus, the king famous for being punished to roll a boulder up a steep hill in Tartarus, had a habit of murdering guests in life.
    • The poor, elderly couple Baucis and Philemon received with glad hospitality two weary travelers whom their wealthier neighbors had driven off. Since these travelers were Zeus and Hermes, they quickly realized that their supplies refused to run out no matter how much they and their guests took. Recognizing that they must be playing host to gods, the couple prostrated themselves before their guests. The gods then turned their neighbors' village into a lake and transformed the stingy neighbors into fish, and then told Baucis and Philemon that they would be granted a wish. The old couple replied that their wish was that they should die at the same moment so neither of them had to live widowed. When they did die, they were outside their home looking at that lake, and because Zeus can be a softie sometimes, he turned the old couple into two trees, their branches forever intertwined in love, forever looking out on one of the most beautiful vistas in Greece.
      • On the flip side, take the example of Lycaon. He and his sons knew Zeus made a habit of randomly dropping by to check on xenia, host and guest alike, so when they happened to get a visitor one night, they suspected his real identity. What do they do to make sure? Why, cook a child into a stew, following Tantalus' example (seen further along on the page). Zeus literally flips the table, turns Lycaon and his brood into the first werewolves remarking that only their appearance changed, nothing within, and had the kid brought back to life. Made even worse by some versions which specify that Lycaon used to have a daughter, Kallisto, who... Zeus fancied... to put it in polite terms. Kallisto was turned into a bear (for being raped or for keeping her pregnancy secret from Artemis, whose hunter she was), but gave birth to a son, and this son was the child Lycaon cooked, meaning they made Zeus eat his own child.
    • King Diomedes of Thrace, Son of Ares, violated hospitality by attacking any travelers who encountered his kingdom and feeding them to his man-eating mares. Eventually, Heracles defeated him and fed him to his own mares.
    • Another Son of Ares, Cycnus, also murdered his guests until Heracles killed him. In spite of his crimes, Ares still cared about him and attacked Heracles to avenge him, until either Heracles defeated him or Athena and/or Zeus forced Ares to stop.
    • In Euripides's Alcestis, when Admetus' wife sacrificed herself for him and then Heracles arrived shortly after, Admetus tried to hide that he was in mourning for his wife because they considered hospitality sacred. As a result, he allowed Heracles to carouse and carry on. When Heracles finally learned of the death, he was deeply embarrassed at having behaved so festively in a house of mourning -- even unawares -- and went to wrestle with Death to reclaim her.
      • Admetus is pretty famous for this trope, actually. He once sheltered Apollo when the latter was sentenced to spend a year serving a mortal king for killing (variously) Delphyne or the Cyclops. As a reward Apollo not only served as Admetus' cowherd during that time, ensuring that all the cows bore twins, but later helped Admetus win the eponymous Alcestis' hand in marriage. He also convinced the Fates to allow Admetus to forgo the expected day of his death if Admetus could find someone to die in his stead. Alcestis eventually volunteered to do so, leading to the above encounter with Heracles.
    • Another Greek Mythology one: Procrustes the blacksmith, and innkeeper of the first Inn of No Return, who offered xenia then broke it. You see, he would let guests stay at his house and stay in this special iron bed. However, if they proved shorter than the bed, he would stretch them out to get them to full size; if they were too tall, he would cut them to size. What if they were exactly the right size? Funny, that: he secretly had two beds. Eventually, Theseus captured him and "fitted" him to the bed he had used to murder passersby. No one knows whether Theseus had to stretch or chop Procrustes.
    • King Minos locked up Daedalus and his son Icarus because he suspected that they helped Theseus escape the Labyrinth. When Daedalus escaped (with Icarus sadly drowning), Minos began roaming Greece searching for him. Daedalus became a guest of King Cocalus. When Minos found him, he demanded Daedalus be turned over to him. Cocalus, not wanting to lose his genius guest, pretended to agree, but said that first Minos should enjoy some hospitality and take a bath in Daedalus' newly invented bath that had hot and cold running water, and his daughters would help bathe him. When Minos got in the tub, Cocalus' daughters promptly trapped him and turned the hot water all the way up to scald him to death. Cocalus and his daughters did not face any punishment for doing this, probably because they protecting their first guest.
    • King Midas, despite being greedy, was very hospitable, and this was what eventually got him in trouble. When his servants caught the old satyr Silenus drunk and passed out after trespassing on his royal grounds, Midas ordered him bathed and fed, and politely entertained him for ten days before taking him back to Dionysus in Lydia. Dionysus offered Midas his choice of whatever reward he wished for. Midas asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold. The god warned Midas that he had made a foolish wish, but he granted it, and as everyone familiar with the story knows, Dionysus was right. In some versions of the myth, when Midas begs to recant his wish, Dionysus specifically refers to Midas's hospitality, saying basically "you should not suffer for that," and tells him to bathe in a specific river to wash the ill-advised wish away. The sand in the riverbed turned to gold in the process. (Said river, in Lydia in western Anatolia, was a famously rich source of electrum, a naturally occuring alloy of gold and silver.)
    • Ixion broke hospitality rules in the most amazingly stupid ways. He invited his family over for a feast, including Deioneus, the father of his recently-wed wife, Dia. To get back at Deioneus for taking his livestock as "payment" for Dia, Ixion pushed him into a flaming bed and was exiled for the kinslaying/hospitality breach. Then Zeus, feeling sorry for the guy (after all, as far as reasons for hospitality breaches go, being forced to pay an excessive bride-price is at least comprehensible), invited him up to hang out with the rest of the gods; they figured he was a terrible host, but this time he's a guest and his hosts are gods, he'll have some sense, right? WRONG. They didn't count on Ixion being stone-cold crazy. Let's see what happened next, folks:
      • During the feast, he felt up Hera in front of everyone. He wasn't even slick about it, and while he didn't have the balls to do it openly he was way too obvious. And he was staring at her and breathing way too hard.
      • So Zeus decided to test his guest; he formed up some clouds into a Hera-shaped sex doll and floated it by Ixion's room at night. Ixion raped it. Let that sink in for a moment. Ixion was willing to rape Zeus's wife, in Zeus's house, when Zeus put up his exiled ass out of the kindness of his godly heart. Ixion would have done that to the King of the Gods; clearly, this was a man who had passed the Moral Event Horizon some time ago. Zeus thus decided to make the next few moments of Ixion's life, shall we say, electrifying. You could say it was a rather shocking affair. You could almost say Zeus smote him with a thunderbolt, even.
      • After Zeus was through, Ixion was thrown into Tartarus, chained to a wheel, set on fire, and left to burn for all eternity. The Hera sex doll gave birth to the Centaurs. And, ladies and gentlemen, this is why you do not abuse the hospitality of the Greek gods.
    • Showing that even demigods were not immune to this, Tantalus, who was a son of Zeus. For some reason, the Olympians liked him enough to attend one of his banquets. When he noticed that his larder wasn't fully stocked with enough meat to prepare the feast, he decided to supplement it with his own son Pelops (meaning he fed Zeus not only human flesh but his own grandson, and the other gods their own great-nephew or cousin). This revolted the Olympiansnote  who revived the boy but decided to give Tantalus a chance to redeem himself as their guest. What did Tantalus do? He stole their ambrosia, shared it with his mortal friends, and blabbed the secrets of the gods. Tantalus stole the food of the gods and bragged about it. His punishment was just as nasty as Ixion's. Since Tantalus' crimes were food-related, he was condemned to eternal starvation and thirst in Tartarus. He was chained to a tree laden with ripe fruit while waist-deep in fresh water, with the nasty catch that the tree branches would lift the fruit out of his reach and the water would recede whenever he tried to take a sip. Thus the origin of the word "tantalize".
      • Tantalus' bit with Pelops leads to a whole chain of curses—many of them involving parents killing children or the other way around—that end up defining a good chunk of Greek Myth, including the breach of hospitality that started The Trojan War. On one hand, Pelops, as King of Pisa (the one in the Peloponnese), curses Laios, the King of Thebes, after a particularly severe breach of hospitality: Laios raped and abducted Chrysippus—Pelops' son—while a guest in Pisa, leading Pelops to cry, "May your own son kill you, Theban!" This curse is what leads to that famous bit with Laios getting killed and his son marrying his wife, which in turn leads to the Seven Against Thebes, regarded as a warm-up to the Trojan War. In the meantime, Pelops' other son Atreus became King of Mycenae—a very good gig—but his other brother Thyestes makes the mistake of seducing Mrs. Atreus while a guest in the Mycenae royal palace (a major breach of hospitality). Atreus finds out and in revenge slaughters Thyestes' sons and serves them up to their father, tricking him into eating them (which, revenge or no, is still a breach of hospitality). Thystes then curses Atreus, whose sons are Menelaus and Agamemnon, whose tale is partly recorded above. Of course, then you get into the interesting story of how Agamemnon gets killed by his wife (who was seeing Thyestes' son Aegisthus after the Iphigenia story), who then gets killed by her son Orestes and daughter Electra, the former of whom goes mad until absolved by an Athenian court (and creating the presumption of innocence in the Athenian justice system, if Aeschylus' The Oresteia is to be believed).
    • The reason the Trojan War started was not only because Paris stole Menelaus' wife (and because all of Helen's other suitors had made an oath to help her husband defend her, if it came to it — the oath was how Odysseus had prevented a huge war among all the kings of Greece when she first came of age) — but because Paris was Menelaus' guest when he did so. The fact that he was visiting Menelaus' kingdom was, in fact, the only reason he ever met Helen. The other kings showed up because of their oath — but it's likely that the war would never have continued for so long if Paris hadn't broken the laws of hospitality at the same time he made off with Helen.
    • Bellerophon was an unwitting beneficiary of hospitality's protection. The wifenote  of his first host (Proetus of Tiryns) attempted to seduce him, and then claimed Bellerophon had ravished her when he refused. Suitably enraged, Proetus wanted to kill Bellerophon, but as Bellerophon was his guest he could not honourably take revenge. So he instead gave him a missive to be delivered to his father-in-law, Iobates of Lycia. On arriving in Lycia, Bellerophon and his new host feasted for several days before the missive was opened, containing a request that the recipient kill the bearer of said message. Now Bellerophon was protected doubly by hospitality. So Iobates devised suicidal tasks for Bellerophon to accomplish...which he accomplished repeatedly.
    • When Leto wandered into Lycia, she tried to drink from a pool. The peasants there stirred it up until it was too muddy to drink. She turned them into frogs.
    • Other examples of hosts trying to kill guests by requesting potentially lethal favors of them in Greek Mythology were Polydectes to Perseus and Aeetes to Jason.
  • In The Odyssey:
    • Odysseus's conflict with Polyphemus. After eating some of the cyclops' cheese, Odysseus insists that they wait for him to return and offer him wine as a gift. However, Polyphemus violates hospitality by eating some of Odysseus' men and then imprisoning the rest to eat later (believing himself not to be subject to Zeus because he is a son of Poseidon). Figuring the rules of hospitality don't apply anymore, Odysseus gets Polyphemus drunk and blinds him.
    • The reason why Odysseus slaughters the suitors in his home rather than just kick them out is that they had violated the rules of hospitality by refusing to leave when his wife had asked, and constantly harassing her to marry them. Sacred hospitality goes both ways, after all; you're supposed to respect your host in return for them providing food and shelter. In fact, the gods demand that he kill them.
    • Inversely, the swineherd Eumaeus, upon having a beggar (actually Odysseus in disguise) ask for shelter, proceeds to let the man in and treat him about as well as a man of his resources can do so, letting the beggar take his choice of the food and even slaughtering a few of his pigs so they can eat well. Eumaeus's recognition of sacred hospitality is meant to be a sign that he is someone Odysseus can trust.
    • There's an incredible irony here, intentional or not. The whole reason Odysseus had been put through hell and took so long to get home to his wife was that Poseidon, Polyphemus' father, sought revenge for his son being blinded after Polyphemus asked him to make Odysseus' life as miserable as possible, despite the fact that Polyphemus had violated a divine law himself. Yet, Odysseus himself honored this law in one important turning point of the story and inflicted punishment on those who violated it in another. So does this prove that Odysseus is more honorable than a god who does not respect a law that he and his fellows put in place? Like many stories involving the Greek gods' interactions with mortals, yes.
  • There are many cases in Norse Mythology of people offering hospitality. Apparently, in their culture, it was a great insult to imply that someone was a bad host. Also, going incognito by calling oneself just "Gestr" ("Guest") was acceptable. Odin did it occasionally.
    • Often the gods find themselves forced to put up with a troublemaker because they had already offered him (or her) their hospitality. The most well-known example is found in the Poetic Edda poem "Lokasenna" ("Loki's Quarrel"), where the gods attend a feast in Aegir's hall and Loki exploits the rule of hospitality by insulting every single one of them repeatedly because he knows they can't resort to violence against him without breaking the law of hospitality. In the end, however, the trope is subverted when Thor arrives late to the feast and threatens to hit Loki with his hammer — and Loki leaves because he knows that Thor is the only one there who actually will hit him.
    • Indeed, the first and oldest half of Hávamál, one of the few gnomic Norse texts, is almost entirely dedicated to explaining why and how one should be a good host.
  • Pele (the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes), put off by the rich and welcomed by the poor, curses the former and blesses the latter, and so children are warned to be kind to strangers, who might be Pele.
  • There is an Arab story of a burglar who entered the Sultan's palace and stole a bag, which he thought contained sugar (back then a valuable commodity and very much worth stealing). On opening the bag, he found it actually contained salt. As salt is a symbol of hospitality, there was no honorable thing to do but bring it back and leave it. When the guards guessed what had happened, the Sultan ordered that the city be searched. When the thief was found, the Sultan showered him with riches because he had risked his life for Sacred Hospitality.
  • A similar story has it that a burglar is about finished when he finds a small box with what he thinks is sugar. When he tastes it and realizes it is salt, he puts everything back.
  • Shows fairly often in The Arabian Nights. For example, in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", a dinner guest at Ali Baba's house says that he is unable to eat anything with salt in; his excuse is a dietary restriction, but actually he's the bandit chief, come in disguise to kill Ali Baba, and if he eats salt while he's a guest, he has "shared salt" with his host and is bound by the laws of hospitality. Ali Baba, suspecting nothing, orders food to be prepared without salt, but this makes his wise slave girl curious and leads to her unmasking the bandit.
  • Sacred Hospitality killed the great hero Cuchulainn. One of his geases prevented him from ever turning down hospitality; another forbade him from eating dog's flesh. When he stayed with an enemy (for reasons that made sense at the time), dinner that night was dog. The next day, stripped of his strength, Cuchulainn was killed in battle.
  • In another example from Celtic Mythology, Bres becomes unpopular as new king of the Tuatha De because he refuses to host them properly AND humiliates them with manual labor on top of it.
  • In The Bible:
    • Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for, among other things, violating this rule. Some angels go in disguise to test if anyone is willing to extend hospitality to them, but only Lot does so (to the point of protecting said angels from a mob of would-be rapists, and offering up his own daughters instead), and thus Lot and his family are spared while the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed.
    • More happily, Abraham also has occasion to entertain the very same angels, who show up to tell him that, after some decades of trying, he and Sarai are finally going to have a kid.
    • The above two cases inspire a line in the New Testament that expounds this trope:
      Hebrews 13:2 - Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
    • Jael, Heber's wife, subverted this: the Philistine general Sisera was fleeing after having been defeated by Deborah and her general Baraq, and Jael offered to shelter and hide him in her tent. After he was asleep, she drove a tent peg through his skull; she wasn't punished for breaking this "law" because Sisera was that dangerous.
    • The Incident at Gibeah: a Levite, his concubine, and his servant stop for the night in Gibeah. One man welcomes them into his home, then the rest of the townsmen form a mob and demand to rape the Levite, who throws them his concubine instead. The men of Gibeah rape her to death, and this pits the rest of the tribes against the tribe of Benjamin. The author of Judges deliberately mirrors the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to say that the violation of sacred hospitality wasn't just a Canaanite problem.
    • Found several times in the New Testament, as well: the most well-known example would be the Good Samaritan. There's also a passage in Matthew 10 where Jesus is sending his disciples out for their first hands-on missionary training: He tells them to take nothing with them but the clothes on their backs; any house that welcomes them is to be blessed, but for anyone who doesn't receive them "it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." (The hospitality laws of the Jews were spelled out in Exodus, and were really important.)
      • Before the above (at least, found before the Luke telling of it), when He was on His way to Jerusalem, He sent messengers ahead to Samaria to prepare a place for Him, but they wouldn't receive Him because of His destination. James and John asked if He wanted them to command fire to come down and burn them up. (Jesus thought they were overreacting, and they just went to another village.)
  • In Hindu Mythology, Yama arrived home to find that a man had been awaiting his arrival for three days. In atonement for this lack of hospitality, he granted the man three boons.
  • George MacDonald Fraser related a Scottish legend that came down through the generations as part of his Highland family's folklore, with the strong hint this actually happened to distant ancestors. One day, the Head of the Clan Gordon was waylaid and foully slain by his sworn enemies, the MacGregors. The MacGregors then went to the Gordon castle and sought hospitality, which the wife of the Gordon was bound to provide, even for sworn enemies. Once inside and seated at table, the MacGregor clan head then grinned, brought out the head of the Gordon from a bag, and said "set a place, your master is home." His wife did not move a muscle in her face, but set a place at the head of the table, setting her husband's head there in pride of place that he might see. And during dinner, she said not a word out of place nor displayed emotion. After much whiskey, she called her steward. And a servant, with a dirk, came up behind each MacGregor, and stabbed them, leaving none living. Afterwards, she was asked how she had kept a set face in such trial.
    The day a woman of the Gordons cannot keep her countenance is not a day you shall ever see.
  • Japanese Mythology: In the story of Somin Shourai, a traveler visits two brothers, the wealthy Kotan Shourai and the poor Somin Shourai. Kotan rejects the traveler, while Somin offers him his humble bed and meal. Years later, the traveler visits the late Somin Shourai's daughter and tells her to wear a shimenawa wreath around her waist. That night, everyone in the area except for her is wiped out by plague, and the traveler reveals himself to be a god note .

    Tabletop Games 
  • A fairly standard variant of this is practiced by the Rjurik in Birthright. During the bitterly cold winter months, no Rjurik may turn away another seeking shelter but, similarly, no Rjurik seeking shelter from another may attack, insult, or steal from their host. These are considered some of their most sacred laws and failing to honour them is considered an extremely serious crime. Accordingly, the Rjurik sometimes find themselves under extremely odd conditions where two sworn enemies wind up awkwardly sharing a meal under one roof until weather conditions improve.
  • Discworld Roleplaying Game: As in the source material, the Klatchian and D’reg’s Codes of Honour are serious about hospitality: “If you take in a guest or are a guest, treat the hospitality as sacred for exactly 72 hours.” Conversely, the Dark Lord’s Code puts a twisted spin on the idea: “Provide visiting heroes who aren't yet scheduled for the death trap with comfortable lodgings, submissive servants, and a change of clothes.”
  • The Al-Qadim setting for Dungeons & Dragons, which is based on the Arabian Nights, mentions the Arabic examples from under Mythology and Literature while discussing the salt code, and encourages Zakhayan characters to be equally diligent in following it.
  • In the solo adventure module "A Bad Batch of Brownies" (from Dungeon #58), the reason the brownies are acting "bad" (tattooing themselves, wearing leather jackets, trying to sound and act "tough", and making the forest a complete and utter mess) is that they're trying to emulate an unusual guest. "Wild Jack" is a street tough from a biker gang who came through a Well of Many Worlds from an Alternate Prime Material Plane (as in, ours), and while he's not the most cordial or polite of guests, the brownies insist he not be killed or abused, as he's a guest. Not to mention it was their fault he's here, as they were misusing the Well of Many Worlds and now have no idea how to help him get home. The player's goal is to find a way to do that.
  • In Exalted, the Autocthonian city of Kamak takes this very seriously. Kamak is located in a very cold region, where exposure to the elements may mean death. Therefore, a Kamaki is expected to share her home and food with whoever asks. (This law does have limits, though. A person who abuses the hospitality rule to invade the home of an enemy is severely punished.)
  • GURPS: Arabian Nights has the disadvantage "Code of Honor: Arabian," which has as its main departure from other Codes of Honor the emphasis on Sacred Hospitality; a character with the disadvantage must conduct himself properly as a guest and shelter others the best he can when they need it.
  • In Houses of the Blooded, hospitality has a special meaning. Normally in ven society, politics and backstabbing are just part of the fun - but if you request hospitality, and it's granted, what you're agreeing to is "no games." Your host won't plot against you, poison you, or look for ways to screw you over, you won't go prying into parts of the house where you shouldn't be in or otherwise screwing your host, and both sides are supposed to mean it. Ordinary social occasions are not hospitality.
  • Infernum: One of the three main customs (the others being Covenant and the Law of the Duel) holding the society of demons together. Being a race almost entirely composed of Neutral Evil individuals, there's naturally a lot of wrangling over the fine details, such as whether hospitality extends solely to a demon's fortress or to anywhere on a demon's estates. In general, though, so long as a demon remembers to request hospitality (refusal of such a request reflects badly on the host-demon and its whole House), and makes no effort to attack its host, it is perfectly safe while in that fortress. Should either individual attack the other, though, the wronged party is free to do whatever they like to the assailant, and the host is only forbidden from enchanting or injuring their guest- they can otherwise make them as uncomfortable and/or unwelcome as they desire.
  • In the New World of Darkness:
    • In Mage: The Awakening Of the Great Rights of Magical Society, the Right of Hospitality requires a mage to be given sanctuary and protection upon request, usually in the wake of an attack or paradox, or because the mage is far from home. Most protocols regarding this Right require the mage to keep them for at least a week, protect them from any possible threat, provide them with shelter and enough food to survive, and tend to any serious wounds; most mages are likely to go beyond these limited requirements. Failure to properly honor Hospitality is often regarded as extreme enough to act as a preface to declaring war.
    • In Changeling: The Lost, granting hospitality and sanctuary to any Changeling who enters your dwelling for twenty-four hours is mandatory. Unlike most mandatory things in Changeling, however, this one can be denied- it's not magically enforced, but it's plain bad form not to. After all, you're all on the same side. Most of the time.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • One of the basic tenets of Kithain society in Changeling: The Dreaming holds that faerie locales should be kept free of Banality and worldly violence, and anyone seeking refuge in such a place should be admitted. Unfortunately, it's often disregarded thanks to competition for the few Earthly locales that still exist.
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade:
      • This is one of the core traditions of the Camarilla, who expect all visiting vampires to announce their presence in the domain and behave themselves properly while they are there. It's subverted in that the obligations of the guest are observed far more closely than those of the host.
      • The Tzimisce are monsters even among the Sabbat but nonetheless are extremely strict about guests and hosts both following the rules of hospitality. As the clan has its roots in the unforgiving mountains and forests of eastern Europe, these rules used to be necessary for travel, and are now enforced by elders who remember those days.
  • Pathfinder: Nykteras, a type of fey, take hospitality extremely seriously. They will not deny aid and rest to anyone who needs them, even bitter foes; however, if their hospitality is betrayed, the nyktera will fly into a rage and savagely attack the perpetrator, and it and its family will try to mete out an appropriate punishment if they can't avenge themselves then and there.
  • In the French rpg Rêve de Dragon, young people are expected to travel - some a few days or weeks in their life until the nearest town and then settle down, some ( like the PCs) become permanent travellers. Every village has a House of the Travellers where they're received free for a week or so in return for entertaining the locals with tales of their travels.
  • Scion:
    • One geas you can take on yourself as a Scion of the Irish gods requires you to obey the laws of hospitality as a host. A separate one demands that you always accept such offers from others. If you break the latter, the only way to restore it is to live entirely on the kindness of others for a period of time depending on how seriously you swore it.
    • In Scion: Ragnarok we're told the Aesir hold this to be true as well. Even the Titans Jord and Ran threw a feast for the Aesir where the only trouble came from (surprise surprise) Loki. A scion of the Aesir is expected to provide hospitality for his family and can in turn expect the same in their parent's home. Of course, their divine hosts might imply that a good guest wouldn't mind helping his host out with a little problem (read: very dangerous quest).
  • Traveller: Both Aslan and Vilani have their own hospitality codes. Some variations of the Aslan code come even before kin ties. One Aslan was praised for killing his brother in battle rather than turning against his host.
  • In a short story written for Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, a group of soldiers finds refuge in a peasant's home in post-fall Lordaeron. Having been fighting the Scourge for days, they are grateful for the hot food and beverage the peasant offers. Unfortunately, the peasant is actually a Scourge agent who was using hospitality to fish out information about troop movements. Once the soldiers let slip some details the peasant kills them.

  • Raina believes in the idea of a guest being sacred in Arms and the Man, leading her to protect an enemy soldier who climbs in her window to escape from her countrymen.
  • As You Like It: While in Arden, a starving Orlando ends up holding up Duke Senior and his retinue at knifepoint for some of their food. Duke Senior is more than happy to invite Orlando to share dinner with him, which confuses Orlando at first.
  • Come from Away could easily be called Sacred Hospitality: The Musical, considering how the Newfoundland residents pull out all the stops to make over 7000 plane passengers stranded by the closure of U.S. airspace in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 feel welcome.
    • A notable example involves Ali, an Egyptian who found himself harassed by some of the other plane people, who suspected that he was either working with the terrorists or at least supported them because he was Muslem. The locals on the other hand were nothing but friendly toward him. When he offers to help some people who were cooking for the plane people, Beulah insisted that he was a guest. When Ali then told her he wanted to help cook because he wanted to stay busy, and he also was a master chef in New York, Buelah happily directed him to the kitchen.
  • In John Milton's Comus, the sister praises this among the poor.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' The Emperor Constantine, Maximian praises Helena's hospitality.
  • In Euripides' Hecuba, even war criminal Agamemnon is incensed to learn that Polymestor, to whom the late King Priam of Troy had entrusted care of his youngest son before the war, has murdered the prince. Despite Polymestor's attempts to frame what he did as a service to the Greeks, Agamemnon tells Polymestor to take as his just due the dreadful vengeance taken on him by Priam's now childless widow Hecuba.
  • In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth worries about killing Duncan while he was a guest in Macbeth's castle.
    He's here in double trust:
    First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
    Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
    Who should against his murderer shut the door,
    Not bear the knife myself.
  • Invoked in Les Misérables: the Bishop offers Valjean a place to sleep when no one else would due to the latter's status as an ex-con. To repay him, Valjean steals the Bishop's silver. The guards who catch him and return him to the Bishop make a point that the Bishop was an honest man and that Valjean was in fact his guest.
  • Inverted and Played for Laughs in The Music Man by the townsfolk of River City. They positively revel in how shoddily they treat outsiders.
    But what the heck, you're welcome, join us at the picnic
    You can eat your fill of all the food you bring yourself
  • Similarly in Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo and his friends sneak into the Capulet feast in disguise but are still found out, Lord Capulet says that they should be left alone for the time being. He even reprehends his nephew Tybalt when he disagrees.
  • In Die Walküre, Hunding finds his wife Sieglinde sheltering a man he's been pursuing, and, presumably having learned from the mistakes in Mythology above, lets him stay freely before trying to kill him in the morning, stating "Heilig ist mein Herd, heilig sei mir mein Gast" ("My hearth is holy, let my guest be holy to me too"). The man, Siegmund, then betrays Hunding's hospitality by running off with Sieglinde (who also was Siegmund's long-lost sister). Wotan is cool with the incest, not to mention that Siegmund and Sieglinde are his illegitimate children, but his wife Fricka (who is not the twins' mom) is the protector of marriage and so she demands that Wotan punish Siegmund with death. He does allow Hunding to kill Siegmund in combat and even punishes the titular Walkuere (Brünnhilde) when she tries to stop the duel, but then he kills Hunding himself.

    Video Games 
  • In Dwarf Fortress Adventure Mode, villagers never lock their door or refuse to let adventurers stay the night unless said adventurer has committed some crime against their civilization (though food isn't provided). This is because anyone who stays out at night alone is murdered by swarms of bogeymen.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, New Canaan, a Mormon settlement, was wiped out after their guests, Salt-Upon-Wounds and his White Legs tribe, violated Sacred Hospitality.
    • Double-subverted in the main game, where if you accept an invitation from Caesar to his personal fort with negative rep with the Legion, he'll state that you're an idiot to accept his invitation because he's going to have you killed. Then after a moment, he tells you that he's just joking and he really is trying to get you on his side.
  • Zigzagged in Fallout 4, where Goodneighbour applies their own version of Sacred Hospitality: first-time visitors of the town are treated as guests and thus not a target from the local gangsters and conmen, as long as they show proper respect to Hancock and mind their own business. One of the inhabitants violates the rules by trying to shakedown the Player Character and gets gutted by Hancock for his trouble.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, the Greek heroic spirit Caenis ultimately agrees to aid the heroes despite being on the other side of their war against Zeus because when they had been badly injured, they took them in and offered them food: despite otherwise having a bad attitude, they refuse to break the bond between guest and host. Bonus points for the seemingly-inept boss being the one who wins them over with fluffy croissants. Unfortunately, despite initially going along with them, they later betrays the protagonists anyway because their Undying Loyalty to their original Master is just that strong.
  • God of War (PS4) and God of War Ragnarök have Sacred Hospitality as a relatively minor recurring theme, fitting with its prevalence in both Greek and Norse mythology. Kratos himself, being from Ancient Greece, takes hospitality very seriously, while many stories Mimir tells about the Aesir, Thor especially, involve breaking sacred hospitality- usually by getting drunk and starting fights. The opening scene of Ragnarok has Kratos host Odin and Thor (there to discuss the events of the previous game) at his house; Kratos does his best to be a good host even when he's very wary of his guests' intentions, Thor is actually a pretty good guest who asks for permission before entering and brings a horn of mead as a gift which he pours two steins for himself and Kratos, and Odin (who, ironically, is known in actual Norse Mythology for enforcing hospitality rules) just barges in like he owns the place and drinks both aforementioned steins.
  • In Pathologic 2, a gang of starving orphans offer The Hero the last scraps of food that they have. If he objects, they insist that feeding strangers will bring them luck, and they need luck more than food right now. (Given that All Myths Are True in this setting, they may have a point.) Refusing or accepting is the player's choice.
    • It is a Secret Test of Character, but not in the way tropers might expect. Townsfolk believe that giving/receiving gifts, or even just bartering generously, unites them as a people. Refusing to entangle yourself in a social interaction is not kindness, but a signal that you don't consider yourself part of the the best option is to take what the kids offer (some toast and a bottle of milk) and return the next day with a piece of toast. They will take it, praising Artemy for not forgetting his heritage and caring that they get fed. This nets you not just the milk, but a much-needed reputation boost.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies Damian Tenma is very sorry he cannot offer his guests proper refreshments...because he is in jail on suspicion of murder, with his 'guests' being his defense team.
  • One of the Oaths of the Bahmi in Rift.
  • In Six Ages, clan advisors are careful to distinguish between guests and mere visitors. You can murder guests in some cases (usually the interface won't even give you the option), but doing so will make your clan magic and reputation drop like a matter how disrespectful they were being.
  • Ryu's backstory in Street Fighter has him depending on, and strictly returning, this. As he is a wanderer with often very little money besides what he wins street fighting, he must many times depend upon the hospitality of strangers to provide him food and shelter for the evening. However, he also makes a point to be a model guest, even offering to repay his host's generosity by performing any odd jobs said host may require at the time.
  • Regarding normal humans in Gensokyo, the setting of Touhou Project, according to Akyuu, the number one rule in regards to meeting someone you don't know is be polite. Because they just might be one of the incredibly powerful Youkai that live there. (Even Yuuka is stated to go easy on people who are polite.)
  • In keeping with her honorable nature, Undyne of Undertale takes Sacred Hospitality very seriously. She's been taught her whole life that humans are the enemy, and she's hunting you specifically because your SOUL could free the monsters, but if you're a guest at her house, she'll treat you with the full (if grudging) respect that merits. She won't even let you get up to get a drink, violently insisting that it's the host's duty to provide such to a guest. She goes as far as cleaving her own dining table in two with a spear if you try to get up to pick a drink. That said, it can also be defied if you're on good terms with her—a sufficiently catastrophic cooking lesson will lead her to challenge you in her own home to maintain her dignity.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt it's mentioned that Toussaint has an ancient custom that obliges people to give food and drink to hungry guests and is said to bring misfortune to those who neglect it. A century before the events of the game, the heiress of the Trastamara estate turned away a beggar who then placed a curse on her, transforming her into a spotted wight. After Geralt lifts the curse on her in the modern day, the background music heavily implies that the "beggar" was actually Gaunter O'Dimm in disguise.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Fate/hollow ataraxia character Rider/Medusa, despite being an Ancient Greek monster who is not above killing people to achieve her goals, feels ashamed that she secretly drinks her host's blood. To say nothing of what the other guests would do to her if they found out...


    Web Original 
  • In Guts and Sass: An Anti-Epic, the Sergilé invoke Sacred Hospitality through sharing meat.

    Western Animation 
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Luck 'O' the Ducks", a Con Artist leprechaun steals Scrooge's money, and to save face, he invites Scrooge and his nephews to "his" castle in Ireland. The only problem is, the castle isn't his, and the other leprechauns don't like him or trespassers. However, after the Leprechaun King finds out that the guy did invite Scrooge and his family, he decides they can't throw them in the snake pit, as they first intend to do. Instead, he decides to throw a big party for them (seeing as leprechauns will apparently use any excuse to throw a party, no one else objects).
  • Invoked by Tarrlok from The Legend of Korra when he walks in on Tenzin and his family (and Korra) eating dinner. When questioned by Tenzin, he reminds him that Air Nomads would never turn down a guest in need of food or shelter. So Tenzin reluctantly gives in, earning him a disapproving glare from his wife. To add insult to injury, Tarrlok doesn't even take so much as a bite during his visit.
  • The She-Ra and the Princesses of Power episode "Princess Prom" is about the All-Princess Ball, a once-in-a-decade gathering of the kingdoms of Etheria as a display of goodwill and unity, with one of its rules being that conflict is left at the door—along with any partygoers' weapons. Horde Force Captains Catra and Scorpia are able to attend because the latter is technically a Princess and spend the whole party making the heroes look like fools for suspecting an attack. Eventually, Catra goads Adora (She-Ra herself) into breaking the No Fighting rules, partly because she gets a sick kick out of messing with her former best friend, but also as a diversion. In the meantime, Scorpia and the rest of her team manage to damage the host kingdom's castle, kidnap Glimmer and Bow, and steal Adora's Sword of Protection. However, they also cause the Kingdom of Snows to break its ardent neutrality toward the Horde.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Liberty on Ryloth": While Cham acknowledges his group has little food he also states it is traditional to share with and provide for guests so treats Windu, Razor, and Stak to a meal.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Crab Quakes," Super proves herself to be a warm and welcoming host, letting the crabs stay in her house and encouraging them to make themselves at home. She doesn't even mind that the crabs poured a bunch of sand into the house. They need it, since they live in a sandcastle.

    Real Life 
  • Japanese Politeness: Japan is perhaps considered in popular culture to be a modern example of Sacred Hospitality. They have many unwritten rules when it comes to welcoming guests, visitors, and anyone they may encounter in life in general, including but not limited to, avoiding bragging or explicit disagreement at all costs so as to not offend the guest, and indirectly praising their guests but always downplaying one's own accomplishments. In fact the Japanese language itself has an entire dialect for use in Hospitality. Hospitality in Japan is such a serious business, as hosts believe that their guests being anything less than completely happy with the experience represents a personal and professional failure. At some of the more traditional Ryokan (Japanese inns), the staff of the inn will wait out front when you arrive to greet you as you come in and will similarly see you off when you leave, waving until you/your car is out of sight.
  • The main charge against the Clan Campbell-led British army over the Glencoe Massacre was the betrayal of the MacDonalds' hospitality by the billeted soldiers; a much-later inquiry found the Commander guilty of "Murder Under Trust". The two clans have been at each other's throats ever since, to the point where there are still pubs in traditional MacDonald country that forbid Campbells from drinking there. note 
  • On the first night of Pesach, it's tradition to leave an extra place setting (sometimes complete with food) on the table at the Seder in case you're called upon to provide Sacred Hospitality to returning prophet Elijah.
  • Hospitality is an important part of Slavic tradition when receiving guests. During a traditional Polish Christmas, a seat at the table is left open, in case there is anyone who needs a place to stay.note  Bread and salt also remain associated with hospitality in Slavic countries. While the actual practice of offering literal bread and salt is now reserved for formal and ceremonial occasions, the expression, "With bread and salt," is still used to mean, "With open arms."
  • This is a common attitude among Western and Southern Asian peoples, especially in predominantly Muslim countries. There's a saying that goes something like "every guest is a gift from God", and this treatment is extended to everyone welcomed into the home, even enemies.
    • In many Arab societies, someone asking for a favor from a friend will say "we've eaten bread and salt together" as a way of indicating that they really need it.
    • Hospitality has long been recognized as a key part of Arab identity. This is likely on account of the hostile environment: As nomadic herders, people needed to know that they could count on hospitality if they were in dire straits, and as settled merchants, hospitality was good for business (and also useful when traversing the trackless wastes with large amounts of valuable cargo).
    • A soldier from the Haganah told a story of escaping captivity and running smack into an Arab commander. He handed her a piece of bread and told her to eat it; when she did so, he said "Now you are under my protection," and he fulfilled his word.
    • A reporter during the Kosovo conflict once stayed at a Muslim household. One of the people living there was treated as well as he was, and at first, he considered him a relative of the owners. However, he also overheard this stranger being given ominous warnings that if he left the house, he'd be the father. When the reporter asked for more details, he learned that this man was a guest in their house fifteen years before, and had killed the family's eldest son during a dispute. Under both Shari'a and the peculiar local interpretation of custom, this is punishable by death, but since he was a guest, he was still to be treated with respect. As such, he'd been living with this family quite happily since, and the family had gotten used to his presence to the point where many of them begged that he never leave, for his own sake.
    • Similarly, out of besa (a very strong code of honor including hospitality rules), Muslim Albanians saved over 2,000 fleeing Jews during the Holocaust, passing them off (and treating them) as members of their own families, sometimes at the risk of their own lives. As a result, Albania became one of the very few mainland European countries to have more Jews living in it at the end of WWII than at the beginning.
    • In The Sum of All Fears, Jack Ryan quotes the Koran stating "If a man shall enter your tent and eat your salt, even though he be an infidel, you will protect him."
    • It used to be known for the poorer Bedouin to stay off the travel routes. If a guest arrived, they would, of course, be obliged to give him a good greeting to make sure to keep Sacred Hospitality. So the only thing to do was to make sure very few guests arrived. Sort of a compromise between Honor and Reason.
    • Related to this, there is the legend of the pre-Islamic Bedouin Christian poet Hatim al-Ta'iy, who killed his nanny goat — the only possession that he had — to feed some travelers who happened to stumble upon his tent. To this day, karam Hatim (the generosity of Hatim) is a fairly common (if somewhat high-class) expression for being very generous to one's guests in Arab and wider Islamic culture (his fame in the Islamic world is so great they even made not one but two Bollywood movies about him in India, one in 1956 and one in 1990).
  • "Southern Hospitality" is Serious Business in Sweet Home Alabama, especially among the upper class. There are magazines about it and formal courses to take on it.
  • Characteristic of the Benedictine monastic order; in fact, one of their founding rules states that they should "always treat every visitor as if he was Jesus himself" because he might well be. They do have some liberty to decide how pleasant the visitors' stay will end up being, though. As just one example, should a guest be unpleasant, they may find themselves awakened at four in the morning because Jesus would want to be awake for the first prayers of the day; friendly guests, however, may be exempt, because if Jesus wants to talk to His dad He'll wake Himself up.
  • In the Church of Satan, the concept of Domain is mentioned as extremely important - if you are in someone else's Domain, you will show them proper respect or leave, and expect that they will return the favor in your Domain. On the other hand, it specifically says in the Satanic Bible that if your guests disrespect you, then you should destroy them. The sacred hospitality is two-sided: the guest has a code of behavior as well as the host, and if one breaks it, the other isn't obligated to go along, either.
  • During the war in Afghanistan:
    • US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell was injured in a firefight with the Taliban and limped his way to a nearby Afghan village. Luckily for him, this particular village was bound by tribal custom to defend visitors to the death, and they protected Luttrell from Taliban reprisals until he could be rescued.
    • Less fortunately, the Pushtun tribal code prevented Mullah Omar from allowing the Saudis to extradite Osama bin Laden in The '90s. When a US official called him to help, Omar said that he had offered the man his protection and so could do nothing. The US official replied that Bin Laden was like a guest who was shooting at the neighbors from the host's windows. Ultimately, of course, he hit something important, and NATO blew the house to smithereens, to continue the metaphor.
    • In a more inspirational example, some aid workers came to an Afghan village to provide services. When Taliban troops came to kidnap said aid workers, the villagers fought tooth and nail to protect them, eventually driving the Taliban off. When asked why they had fought so hard against a superior foe, they replied that since the workers were there to help the village, the villagers were obligated to help them.
  • During The Crusades, it was not unusual for the Crusaders and the Arabs to sit down to meals together, in observance of Sacred Hospitality. The legend goes that Saladin was very demanding that his people observe these rules, such much that when one of his most trusted men attacked Saladin's guests, Saladin himself killed him and apologized profusely for the offense.
    • Some specific examples include Saladin sending snow, fruit, and his personal physician to Richard the Lionheart when he was ill and sending two of his personal horses to replace Richard's when it fell in battle. Equally chivalrous, Richard tried to arrange a marriage of his sister to Saladin's brother, with Jerusalem being a dowry open to all.
  • Anthropologists can trace this tradition back to gift economies, where people with a surplus had to give to their neighbors, otherwise resentment and jealousy would rip apart the pre-cash society. So it worked out like this:
    Somebody with too much bronze: "Oh man, everyone's giving me the stink eye. I gotta get rid of this excess."
    Somebody with not enough bronze: "Hey, your pile of bronze is looking great."
    Somebody with too much bronze: "Oh this? It's nothing, please take some." (forces bronze into neighbor's hands)
    Later that day: "Hey, that pile of baskets is looking great." And so on...
    • An example of this is the potlatch customs of Indigenous North Americans along the Pacific coast. The obligation of the powerful to distribute lavish gifts is a major part of the workings of traditional government, justice, diplomacy, etc.
  • Just about every society takes the rules of Sacred Hospitality seriously, even in the Modern Age. While societies with more modern infrastructure may be asked to observe it less often than in the past, violating these often unspoken rules is a major social offense. Some have the rule that you are not required to let them in your home, but if you do, then you better observe these rules, as should the invitee.
  • In the medieval era there was a huge list of strict rules around this. They were actually vitally necessary as any kind of travel (especially if it was a huge entourage) took a lot of time and the only options were to board up with someone or bed down on the side of the road. If you broke the rules of hospitality on either end you could face barred doors the next time you knocked. Some of the rules even persist today, like "Taking It Outside". Way back when it was entirely possible for two people who were feuding to wind up staying at the same man's house. It would be rude to start fighting within his walls, possibly damaging his property, so if they started butting heads they had to walk outside of the walls before swords were drawn.
  • A couple of curious examples were the relation between a noble and a high-class prisoner of war or hostage. While the latter was there by force, the laws of war and diplomacy dictated that they treat each other as host and guest. Often this would extend to the guest fighting in the host's army and several famous warlords won their spurs as a hostage in a foreign court. The system of honorable hostage exchange was an obvious tool of family-dominated politics and became obsolete with it. However, some traces of Sacred Hospitality toward prisoners of war remained as late as World War II, an example of which was when General Montgomery (who even his friends would say had a difficult personality) hosted captured German General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma at dinner. This caused some controversy given the changed times and the nature of the German regime, but the main reason anyone remembers this today is Winston Churchill's quip:
    I sympathize with General von Thoma: Defeated, in captivity and... dinner with Montgomery.
  • In pre-Revolution America, some smaller Colonial settlements had a custom of leaving one or more candles burning in the window as a sign that one's home was open to wandering travelers. There was no rule that said you had to give room and board to a traveler, though you would face social stigma if you had the extra room and refused to offer it. Supposedly the number of candles in the window symbolized what kind of welcome the house was willing to offer. One candle meant "you can spend the night in the barn", two candles meant "we have an extra bed", and three candles meant "we have an extra bed and hot food". (A popular joke has it that a fourth candle, especially one shining from an upstairs window, signified that the farmer's daughter would sleep with you.) This practice started to peter out during the lead-up to the American Revolution when the political loyalties of travelers became a cause for concern. Harboring a Loyalist in a Patriot-friendly village (or vice-versa) could cause your neighbors to turn on you.
    • A symbolic version of this still continues year-round (not just around Christmas, like people often assume) in many northern states, specifically the old Colonial states of the Northeast. If you drive through the countryside or even some urban and suburban neighborhoods in this region, there's a pretty good chance that you'll see several homes with candles burning in their windows. All of them will be decorative and electric, of course, but it's still considered a traditional gesture of welcome and guidance to friends and travelers in many northeastern communities.
  • The old Celtic celebration that would later go on to be commercialized into Halloween was an extension of Sacred Hospitality, where people would go from home to home and receive food from their neighbors, failure to satisfy at least one group would be allowance for some pretty harsh (some myths say deadly) pranks and tricks. Since the purpose of the holiday was to scare or appease The Fair Folk, the tricks were something annoyed Fae would be prone to do if they got snubbed, so it served as a warning to the inhospitable family that they were endangering the entire township by being so stingy.
  • Very much a case of Serious Business in the Indian Subcontinent. Unlike much of the developed world, travel is still somewhat difficult in the nations of the subcontinent - and a long tradition of Sacred Hospitality persists.
    • Sikhism has a variant of this as a religious requirement. At a Sikh temple, there is (usually) an attached Community Kitchen (called Langar) where anyone may show up and get a free meal, regardless of background. No questions asked. In almost all areas, these meals are strictly vegetarian (save for certain days each year which vary per temple) so that everyone may eat as equals. Rural Sikhs in Punjab and the surrounding areas may also offer more traditional sacred hospitality, but this is more likely to be culturally inspired than religiously inspired.
    • Hindus believe that a stranger could very well be one of the Gods themselves, and are expected to treat them well. Breaking the tradition is one of the worst sins someone could ever commit. Much like the Sikhs, most Hindu temples also have a Community Kitchen (called Choultry or Dharamshaala) where people will be given meals (strictly vegetarian, naturally) and boarding, no questions asked.
  • For most nomadic people, Sacred Hospitality is Serious Business. This was doubly true for Temujin, later known as Genghis Khan, whose father had been murdered when someone chose to break it by poisoning him, and several of his later troubles stemmed from failures to uphold the tradition, as well. How serious was this to him? Seriously enough that he completely annihilated several larger nations over it.
  • Curiously, the destruction of the Khwarezmians was not the first time that a Persian ruler had started a war by failing to respect an embassy from a nomadic steppe empire. Some six centuries earlier (in 588 CE), a Sassanid governor (satrap) rejected trade negotiations from the Göktürksnote , turning the first embassy away and destroying their goods, then killing the second group of envoys outright. The Western Göktürks, who had aided the Sassanid Persians in destroying the Hephtalites only a few years earlier, would ally themselves with Persia's perennial enemy the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire shortly afterwards. While they never did anything like the damage done by the Mongols, they would remain a thorn in the Persians' side for the next fifty years, until Persia was conquered by the emerging Rashidun Caliphate.
  • Nowadays, this has even been commercialized in the form of Airbnb. Although there is a financial transaction involved, many Airbnb listings are in essence a high-tech version of the old "candle in the window". And without hosts and guests treating each other respectfully, the business would quickly fall apart.
  • Studies into travel have shown that "visiting friends & family" has gotten increasing market share as a reason to travel over "business" and "pleasure". With the increasingly open borders in Europe and the high mobility of people in the Anglosphere, it's more than likely that a weary traveler will arrive after a day or more on the rails or road or in the air when they finally see their old Erasmus buddy or distant cousin, so a set of (unwritten) rules to go by is not the worst idea.
  • Some travel guides to Russia say that guests should be very careful about compliments when visiting Russian homes and keep their comments in general terms. This is because under Russian customs and traditions of hospitality, if a guest says something positive about an item in a home, the host will take it as an obligation to give that item to the guest as a gift.
  • In some U.S. states with extremely rural areas, it's actually a crime to not stop for stranded motorists, as it could be hours or days before another vehicle passes that way. During the winters, picking up a stranded person could literally be a matter of life or death.
    • On a similar note, in the town of Churchill, Manitoba (in Canada) there is a municipal law forcing people to leave their car doors unlocked because there is a genuine risk a polar bear might wander around and someone might need an emergency shelter.