Odyssey – Telemachos Analysis Essay, Research Paper
To thine own self be true, is a famous Shakespearean quote, and one the character Telemachos in The Odyssey had to struggle to learn to appreciate. He is first introduced to the reader as being meek and passive, feeling as if defending his family against the suitors is a hopeless effort. With the interference of Athena, he begins to have faith in both himself and his father, returning after years abroad to reclaim the Ithacan throne. By the riveting conclusion of the book, Telemachos has proven himself to be an admirable and brave young man.
When this epic begins, Telemachos and his mother Penelope s home is being overridden by her suitors. Having grown up in a fatherless environment, Telemachos has not yet learned how to stand up for himself and is pessimistic about his father s return. As he talks to Athena, in the disguise of Mentes in Book I, she says this of his attitude, The gods decreed no lack of honor in this generation: such is the son Penelope bore in you. But tell me now, and make this clear to me: what gathering, what feast is this? Why here? A wedding? Revel? At the expense of it all? Not that, I think. How arrogant they seem, these gluttons, making free here in your house! A sensible man would blush to be among them. By saying this, Athena is questioning Telemachos s pride and why he would be so passive as to let the suitors do as they please in his household without legitimate reason. By being meek, Telemachos is doing more harm to his estate than good. Another example of Telemachos s pessimism can also be found in Book I before he departs to find more information on Odysseus through Athena s instruction. He says to Eurymachos, one of Penelope s suitors: Eurymachos, there s no hope for my father. I would not trust a message, if one came, nor any forecaster my mother invites to tell by divination of time to come . Telemachos is extremely skeptical about finding positive information regarding his father, and the reason he agrees to embark on the journey Athena had proposed to him was in order to find truthful information on Odysseus. Little does he know that the truths revealed to him are more than he could bargain for.
Further into the tale, Telemachos s demeanor begins to change and his faith in his father, disguised as an old man by Athena s doing, becomes strong. In this passage from Book XVI, the semblance of a bond between father and son begins to blossom when they begin to plot the reclaiming of their household. Here, Telemachos states to his father confidently, Ah, Father, even when danger comes I think you ll find courage in me. I am not scatterbrained This quote shows that Telemachos is finally gaining self-confidence and is willing to stand up to the suitors despite the fact that the odds against them are fairly large. In Book XX, Telemachos finally stands up for what he believes in and makes it clear that he will no longer tolerate the suitors disrespectful behavior. Says he to the suitors, You others, let me see no more contemptible conduct in my house! I ve been awake to it for a long time by now I know what is honorable and what is not. Before, I was a child. I can endure it while sheep are slaughtered, wine drunk up, and bread can one man check the greed of a hundred men? but I will suffer no more viciousness. Granted you mean at last to cut me down: I welcome that better to die than have humiliation always before my eyes, the stranger buffeted, and the serving women dragged about, abused in a noble house. By saying this, Telemachos is trying to command the respect of the suitors and prove that he is a strong and capable leader of the household. Although the suitors do not yet realize it, they will soon learn that Telemachos really is a force to be reckoned with.
As the story comes to a close, Telemachos has proven himself and his merits worthy of praise and respect. In Book XXII, Medon, the estate s herald, begs for mercy at Telemachos s knees, begging, Here I am, dear prince; but rest your spear! Tell your great father not to see in me a suitor for the sword s edge one of those who laughed at you and ruined his property! Hugging the knees of a superior was a symbol of respect in Homeric times and by pleading to Telemachos, Medon shows that he is worthy of dealing out mercy at his liking and that his judgement was needed before Odysseus s. Another passage that proves Telemachos s manhood and his father s trust and praise is found in Book XXIV when they get ready to face off against the suitors fathers. Says Odysseus to his son, Telemachos, you are going into battle against pikemen where hearts of men are tried. I count on you to bring no shame upon your forefathers. In fighting power we have excelled this lot in every generation. Odysseus shows that he is proud of his son and has faith in his fighting skills, bravery, and virtues. He assures his son that he will uphold the family name and keep it revered after his passing, therefore recognizing him as a clear-headed and thoughtful young man.
Telemachos s journey through self-discovery allowed him to gain self-confidence and the respect of his father and peers. He learned to be open-minded and more brazen and refused to let others walk over him. Many people go through this same period of self-examination during adolescence, striving for the same results and typically receiving them, which makes him an easy character for the reader to relate to. His character can set an example for those struggling to be true to themselves, referring back to the quote from Shakespeare. Although the journey from child to adult is a long and tough one, the results will almost always turn out to be positive.