Telemachus in The Odyssey Essay

Telemachus in The Odyssey Essay

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Telemachus in The Odyssey


The first four books of the Odyssey are sometimes known as
'Telemachy'. It is a self-contained section that could in fact be
easily removed, allowing the story to begin with Odysseus without
damaging the plot. They deal with Telemachus' struggle and coming of
age through his travels and quest.

Telemachus is sent on his travels because although he has grown to
adulthood, when Athene first visits him in book one, he is somewhat
pathetic, lonely and very much a young boy and is not strong enough to
remove the suitors from his father's palace:

"Sitting disconsolate among the Suitors, imagining how his noble
father might come back out of the blue, drive the Suitors headlong
from the house, and so regain his royal honours, and reign over his
own once more"

Telemachus had no one strong to support him and there were 108 suitors
for his mother. Telemachus at this point would not impress the great
Odysseus (his father).

As Telemachus was only an infant when his father left for Troy, he was
desperate for some news about him. Telemachus says that he knows that
he is Odysseus' son only by what he has been told and he is also very
negative about ever finding his father, and his conviction that he is
dead is obvious:

"My father's unhappy end"

Also, his grandfather Laertes was not at the palace and so he has no
male role model to lead him on the right path to becoming a man.

His travels also give Telemachus a chance to develop his own identity
and Kleos and become a man. He develops somewhat in books one to four.
Kleos in Homeric context meant what people said of you and defined how
you'd be r...


... middle of paper ...


...s, which tie him to his childlike life with his overly emotional
mother. He needs to learn about being a hero and polite etiquette in
the company of gods or heroic men. He must prepare himself for the
imminent arrival of his father, which is delayed by Homer whilst
Telemachus becomes a son resembling his father in ways other than
physically. He gains a role model in characters such as Menelaus and a
positive attitude that comes from reassuring words from him and
confidence from Athene. Telemachus discovers the last known
whereabouts of his father, is given hope that he could still be alive
and learns that his father was indeed a hero with many important
friends. We feel sorry for Telemachus' difficult childhood, and yet
think that he needs to become a stronger, more confident character,
that his father can be proud of.

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