Telemachus’ Odyssey

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Through modern culture, most people are familiar with the whole storyline of The Odyssey. Odysseus leaves Troy and embarks on an epic journey filled with adventure and fantasy. However, most readers are unaware that there are actually two journeys that are unfolding simultaneously throughout Homer’s epic. Telemachus’ journey greatly differs from that of his father, Odysseus. While it might not be filled with as much adrenaline and adventure as his father‘s journey, Telemachus’ quest is certainly one that should be noted. It is the story of his coming-of-age. Telemachus greatly matures into a more capable young man. However it is debatable if he will every become the man that his father is.

When the reader first encounters Telemachus in book one, he is portrayed as a young adult, about the age of 21. Telemachus is unhappy among the suitors as a boy daydreaming about his father. “What if his great father / came from the unknown world and drove these men / like dead leaves through the place, recovering / honor and lordships in his own domains?” (1. 145-148). Odysseus had left him and his mother Penelope for Troy while he was still a toddler. In any culture and time, growing up without a fatherly figure can be tough. Without a model for him to imitate, he is left with struggling to learn traits that only a father could teach. The suitors often put him down because of his timorous personality. They exist only with the hopes of courting his mother in his father’s absence. Because of this, he miserably yearns for his father’s return. “I wish at least I had some happy man / as father, growing old in his own house / but unknown death and silence are the fate / of him that, since you ask, they call my father” (1. 261-264). This quote a...

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...our own hall. Tend your spindle. / Tend your loom. Direct your maids at work. / This question of the bow will be for men to settle / most of all for me. I am master here” (21. 394-397). This gesture displays his concern and love for his mother, while declaring his power over the suitors.

It is questionable if Telemachus is truly finished with his journey at the end. There is no doubt that he has matured greatly since the beginning. However, he still makes many mistakes and has a lot to live up to before he becomes the man his father is. It is possible that he may never achieve that fame. He might be his father’s son but he is not as adventurous and brave. Unfortunately, Homer did not leave us with any other surviving text that describes what occurs after The Odyssey. Whether Telemachus ever becomes a man like his father is left up to the reader to interpret.
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