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Fairytales about dangerous hospitality

Discussion in 'Research' started by LaughingCatDog, May 13, 2022.

  1. LaughingCatDog

    LaughingCatDog Acolyte

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    Hello! Can anyone off the top of their head think of fairytales that involve “rules of hospitality” explicitly mentioned? I am in particular looking for myths where the host wants to kill the guest, but cannot do so unless the guest breaks the laws of hospitality
     
  2. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Well...the story of Lot has this. And its widely held in Greek mythos, and some others, that the gods would disguise themselves and reward or punish those they met depending on their hospitality. Looking up Zues or Xenia may have some results.

    Odin too had rites of hospitality.

    Understanding Viking Cultural Values through Norse Mythology
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
  3. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Sorry, jumped the gun....you wanted dangerous hospitality....

    Seems a little like Vampires needing to be invited in.

    Only story I am aware of like this is one where an inn keeper would kill people who did not match well the size of his bed. Seems to me there was a Solomon Kane story along these lines, but I'd have to research to know which one. Could be said the Iliad was based on this. Paris did kind of steal Menelaus's wife, which was not really hospitable, and started the whole thing.

    I wonder if Circe would count for this, turning the men into pigs because they would not be good guests.

    Beauty and the Beast has a large emphasis on Hospitality too, though I don't think it is linked to reprisals.

    I suppose also, Adam and Eve is a story like this. They only had one rule....
     
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  4. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    That one sounds vaguely familiar. Is it in Grimm's?

    But the guests didn't violate the rules of hospitality, the innkeeper did.

    The only stories I can think of where hospitality is violated and guest(s) killed by the host go exactly that way: host breaks the law of hospitality by killing the guests. Macbeth comes to mind: what brings about Macbeth's downfall is exactly that. If he'd killed Duncan on the battlefield, fair and square, he wouldn't have been violating any law. But because Duncan is a guest in Macbeth's home and Macbeth kills him in his sleep, he incurs, essentially, divine punishment. Everything goes wrong.

    That brings up another point: how, exactly, would a guest violate the laws of hospitality? Those place the onus on the host, not the guest. The host can break the law of hospitality by being inhospitable (killing your guest isn't exactly a hospitable thing to do, ya know. ;) ) But what could the guest do to break those laws, other than steal or vandalize or break in? If they do that, they're not a guest, they're a criminal trespasser. Most places, it's both legal and considered morally permissible to defend your home against such violations, even if that means killing the perpetrator.

    Typing that out reminds me of another story that might be what you're looking for: the Ingmar Bergman movie Virgin Spring. Brief synopsis under the spoiler tag, if you're not familiar with it.
    A young woman is raped and murdered by three brothers she meets in the countryside, and then the brothers go to her parents' farm and seek hospitality. They have the girl's bloodstained clothes with them, which makes her parents realize they've killed her. Long story short, her father kills them.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
  5. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Just for you, I looked it up. The character is Procrustes who cuts people to the size of his bed.

    I think the Odyssey may be close to this. In his absence, Penelope is plagued with suitors who pretty much wreck the place and steal all the wealth until Odysseus returns and kicks all their fannies.

    Stories dont usually go in the direction of the guests are bad so the host punishes them. Guests tend to get a lot of leeway, or the hosts were villains from the start.
     
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  6. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Thinking a little more, there are also many scenes I have seen, of which Indiana Jones comes to mind, where the villagers give more food than they eat in a week, and the characters are repulsed by it. Such bad manners have the undertone of grave insult and possible reprisals.
     
  7. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    I think there's a version of the myth of Bellerophon where he's sent to kill the Chimera as a suicide mission because the king couldn't kill him directly due to him being a guest
     
  8. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Uther may qualify for this as well. In spite of the hospitality of Cornwall, Uther lusts after his wife and well....we get the authorian legends after his sin.
     
  9. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    But in none of those stories does the host kill the guest. Uther in particular comes out ahead: he marries Igraine, her husband having been conveniently killed in battle that very day. No negative consequences at all for him.

    If we're considering fairy tales in particular, the closest any that I know of get to the parameters outlined by the OP is a threat that the host will kill the guest if they don't play by the host's rules. Baba Yaga comes to mind. She hosts whoever comes to her hut in the forest, but her home, her rules. The underlying threat is always that she'll eat you if you fail at the impossible task she's set you. But there's no Baba Yaga story in which she actually eats someone. The protagonist always finds the loophole to complete the impossible task, and Baba Yaga always keeps her end of the bargain: if you succeed, you go free with a gift.
     
  10. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    "You betrayed the duke, you stole his wife, you took his castle....now no one trusts you."

    There always something that comes of it.

    But the point taken is, it not easy to think of tales that fit this request. Stories tend more towards bad hosts than bad guests.

    Willy Wonka is like this. Every bad guest gets expelled.
     
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  11. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    But not killed. Although the movie versions leave that possibility open ended. The book explicitly shows us that they all survived.
     
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  12. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    They just needed the brothers Grimm to write it.
     
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  13. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    That would just add a few severed body parts.

    The story as it is has plenty of dark humor in it. Dahl could be very grim himself. Even especially when he was writing for children.
     
  14. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    From the top of my head -

    There was a traveler in a mountainous region who lost the main road in a snowstorm. Desperate for warmth, he spotted a light ahead, which proved to be a small cottage. The door opened as he hammered on it. Inside was a 'Dvirge' or 'Dwarf,' perched on a bench across the room. A roaring fire in the wall to the side provided heat and illumination, next to a stack of firewood. The dwarf growled at his human interloper, but otherwise said nothing. The traveler, afraid, but freezing and desperate, claimed a stone bench or seat just inside the door.

    Time passed. The blizzard continued to rage even as the fire burned low. The dwarf pointed at the firewood and motioned for the traveler to throw more logs on the fire. The traveler reached...but hesitated for reasons he couldn't name.

    The fire burned too little more than embers. Again, the dvirge motioned at the firewood and hearth, and again the traveler declined.

    Despite the cold and the fear, the traveler drifted into uneasy slumber.

    Then he awoke, to find himself not in a stone hut, but in a shallow recess in an otherwise sheer cliff. The blaze that warmed him was just outside this indent - and where the firewood had been, there was naught but a sheer drop. There was no sign of the dwarf.

    That is a rough paraphrase of an old folktale I read many years back.
     
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