Spiritual Growth of Telemachus in The Odyssey

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Odysseus' son Telemachus was a small child when his father left for the Trojan War. At the beginning of The Odyssey Telemachus is an inexperienced, unhappy, and helpless young man. We see this in Book One when he says to Athena "Mother says I am his son; I know not surely...I wish at least I had some happy man as father..." (p. 8) Telemachus has grown immature because he has been raised without a father figure. His travels in search of his father will help him to mature, as we will see throughout his journey.

Telemachus also grew up in very tough situation because he was raised without a father. His mother had to raise him with only the "help" of selfish and arrogant suitors. As we know the suitors were not a good influence on Telemachus because to them, Odysseus was only a fictional hero. There are several times when the suitors make reference to Odysseus and his return and also how they view Telemachus, such as, Eurymakhos states to the old lord Halitherses, "Odysseus he perished far from home. You should have perished with him...as good as telling Telemachus to rage on." (p.24) and also during this same speech he also states that "I advise Telemachus to send his mother..until he does, courtship is our business." (p. 24). This shows that the suitors are not going to advice Telemachus with any wise wisdom. They are only interested in his mother and his father's empire. Here we will see that Telemachus has to make the decision to become a man and fight for what is rightfully his. Another one of the suitors says to Mentor, "Suppose Odysseus himself indeed came in and found suitors at his table he might not be hot to drive them out..." (p.26). This quote shows uncertainty and doubt amongst the suitors about Odysseus' return home and what his actual reaction might be. It shows definite arrogance on their part and a lesson Telemachus must learn to handle on his own without fatherly guidance.

Because Telemachus has not seen his father since he was a small child it would be tough to keep hope that he is still alive. When Telemachus talks with Athena he refers to Odysseus as his, long-lost father, "he's gone, no sign, no word...I inherit trouble and tears."(p.9) and because of Odysseus' absence, Telemachus is losing hope of his father's return. Telemachus also states, "It is easy for these men to like these things.
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