Telemachy Character Analysis In The Odyssey


The Odyssey by Homer is one of the most read literature in the world. The plot in this epic poem is Odysseus’ homecoming from the war which is split into several books. The Odyssey books 1-4 are called Telemachy because we do not really see Odysseus. Instead, we see Odysseus’s son Telemachus on his own journey to find his father. Throughout the first four books, we see the journey of Telemachus coming-of-age. While his journey might not be as adventurous as his father it's certainly getting unfolded throughout Homer's epic book. Telemachus who was just an infant when his father went on a ten-year-long war and is now captured on an island for ten years is now quite grown up. We notice that Telemachus finds himself maturing in the house where his father is absent from. This character development is first noticed when he stands up to fight against the suitor. In Books 2-4, he is seen traveling in hopes of finding information about his father's whereabouts. This essay will focus on portraying the evolution of Telemachus using the traits that help him become a man and fight against the suitors and help him embark on the journey.   

In book I, Telemachus is seen unfit to stand up and fight against the disrespectful suitor. While this might be the start, Athena’s visit to Telemachus shows the reader that while Telemachus is weak, he might have Odysseus' courage and all he needs is guidance. We see that Telemachus who is hesitant to stand up against the suitor is patiently listening to Athena’s words: “ What a tall and splendid man you have grown! Must be as brave as Orestes” (Book 1 line 295). In this line, Athena who is dressed up as Mentes is praising Telemachus as she tries to instill some courage in Telemachus so that he can rise and become the head of the family as he should under the absence of his father. We can see that the speech brought a change in Telemachus’s character because, in book II, Telemachus holds an assembly which is the first one since Odysessus has departed. When he arrives at the assembly, “Athena endowed him with such supernatural grace that all eyes were turned on him in admiration when he came up” (Book 2 line 11). Telemachus' courage is first witnessed in this assembly because he plans to confront the suitors publicly with their crimes and this is important to note because he is finally adapting the role of his father. He is no longer sitting idle and observing the suitors disrespect his mother. Thus Telemachus is surely growing into manhood, but he is powerless without his father because he is unable to make them leave.

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