According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word "hospitality" is defined as "offering a pleasant or sustaining environment for guests." Each country and culture possesses different standards of hospitality. For example, people in Uzbekistan practice hospitality by welcoming guests and inviting them to eat, drink, and stay longer. If a guest is given a cup filled with a beverage, this means that the host is telling the guest to hurry up, drink this full cup, and leave. Therefore, in order to show hospitality, the hosts in Uzbekistan offer their guests a half-cup of a beverage, meaning that if the guests wish more, they are welcome to stay and drink as much as they please. While this quaint practice of hospitality is unique to Uzbekistan, hospitality appears to be a core value in every society, but particularly in ancient Greece. The literature of ancient Greece is replete with tales narrating the practice of hospitality or lack of this practice. The focus of this paper is to examine the code of hospitality and the inversion of this code in the tale of Polyphemus.
Hospitality played a significant role in ancient Greek society and is evident in the folktales and myths of that society. Steve Reece has constructed an exhaustive list of thirty-eight elements which appear in hospitality scenes in Homeric literature and other ancient Greek stories: .
Table 1. Elements of the hospitality code in ancient Greek literature.
I. Maiden at the well/Youth on the road.
II. Arrival at the destination.
III. Description of the surroundings.
a. Of the residence.
b. Of (the activities of) the person sought.
c. Of (the activities of) the others.
IV. Dog at the door.
V. Waiting at the Threshold.
a. Host catches sight of the visitor.
b. Host hesitates to offer hospitality.
c. Host rises from his seat.
d. Host approaches the visitor.
e. Host attends to the visitor's horses.
f. Host takes the visitor by the hand.