Greetings and leave-takings are key moments in every hospitality event, moments that encapsulate the paradoxes of hospitality as a whole-its ambivalence and equivocations, its generosities and power plays, its profound tensions between amity and enmity, openness to the other and selfassertion, servility and mutuality, improvisation and calculation. The first and last moments of an encounter can be transformational, acutely charged with the usually unspoken potentialities of what two (or more) people can do to, and with, each other. Salutations also manifest hospitality as dramaturgy: both theater and hospitality are structured around entrances, exits, and the forms of gesture and speech that they afford; opening gambits and parting shots help to set the tone for an encounter or to sum up what has just passed; they give it a dramatic frame. In this essay I wish to interrogate one particular moment of greeting that dances around the difficulties of hospitality, and in particular an aspect of hospitality not, to my knowledge, very often discussed: the question of what happens in the absence of the directness intrinsic to any ethics of hospitality-the immediacy of engagement without which hospitality is emptied of meaning. Othello, I suggest, addresses the dangers of mediation, of what takes place when what Emmanuel Levinas calls “the dual of the face to face, the singular welcome of the unicity of the other” is shunned.2 My essay approaches this by examining a single, curious instance of greeting in the play-Cassio’s elaborate flourish upon the arrival of Desdemona in Cyprus: “Hail to thee, lady! and the grace of heaven …” (2.1.85ff).3 As has often been noted, this salutation invokes the Ave Maria-a paradigmatic instance in Western culture of the greeting of the other as constitutive of their subjectivity. Cassio’s Ave, both in its avoidance of Levinas’s “uprightness of the welcome made to the face,”4 and in evoking the idea of Mary as mediatrix, alerts us to a crucial feature of Othello: the role of intercession in the downfall of all the play’s protagonists. It is, I argue, through turning away from the immediacy of the engagement so important to hospitality that the play moves inexorably toward tragedy.