The Odyssey Essay, Research Paper
While reading the epic poem, The Odyssey written by Greek poet Homer, it is difficult not to notice how each character develops throughout the epic. Telemachus, the character that is Odysseus s son changes dramatically, and is most obvious. He begins as an adolescent not knowing how to deal with unruly suitors and ends up a man who has successfully reunited with his father in order to defeat the disorderly suitors. Because of his father away at war his mother who pampers him, thus is causing him to be a timid, shy, and spineless teenager who cannot deal with the difficulty that the suitors bring him. Besides from being spoiled by a matriarchal figure he is forced to live up to his father s reputation. Athena helps him through his life while Odysseus is away trying to find a way home, but when Athena sends Telemachus to Sparta this shows him the world and is the first step to manhood. When Odysseus returns, Telemachus has almost completely morphed from a boy to a man but, one thing remains, the suitors.
Not having any father figures as a child severely affects Telemachus. Being the son of a world famous father, a difficult reputation to live up to, does not help him. This lack of motivation and assertive behavior does not help Telemachus when the suitors start eating away at his estate. Telemachus knows what the suitors are doing is wrong yet does not do anything about it. He foolishly hopes that his father will come and clean up the mess that the suitors are to blame for. Telemachus knows that his father would handle the situation with the suitors in a much more aggressive manner than he does. Odysseus would kill all of them for being treacherous people, while Telemachus does nothing but whine. Telemachus says how his noble father might come out of the blue, drive the suitors headlong from the house, and so regain his loyal honors, and reign over his own once more (pg 23)
It is not until Telemachus receives divine attention that he even beings to mature in the least bit. Athena has to come in and has to encourage and give advise to the young, immature Telemachus on what to do. Without this he would have undoubtedly done absolutely nothing about the situation with the suitors and/or any news concerning his fathers return. Telemachus did not have a good role model, because he had no father figure, who was away fighting in the Trojan War. It is probably because of this that we come to have pity for poor Telemachus and condone that a goddess has to help him before he was anybody. In a large way it is unfair to compare Telemachus with his father who also receives the help from Zeus and other gods. Odysseus had a chance to prove him to the gods and earned their attention. However, Telemachus had no father and never had the chance to prove him.
During the poem it seems that even a goddess, such as Athena, does not know what do with somebody as incompetent, and inexperienced as Telemachus. Athena plays around with some ideas and finally decides to send Telemachus to talk to Menelaoss in Sparta about the whereabouts of his father. Perhaps it is this journey that finally gives Telemachus the chance to mature and see the world. Though this journey, his first time out of Ithaca, he sees many new sights and encounters new situations. He is humbled when he sees he palace of Menelaos and his beautiful wife, Helen. Telemachus learns how to act tactfully with those he wants to avoid. This is brought out when he avoids Nestor on his way back from Sparta. Through a series of events he sees what the world is about. He learns of his surroundings and perhaps for the first time in his life interacts with them. The journey to Sparta was very important in developing Telemachus, however it is plausible to argue that the journey back from Sparta was a bigger learning event. He faces his biggest obstacle so far in the book, the suitors plotting against him. He skillfully avoids a bad fate with some help from Athena.
By the end of this epic a once shy, timid, incompetent boy has matured into a thoughtful and brave man that lives up to the legacy of Odysseus. It becomes evidently clear that Telemachus has really matured when we hear new logic, sensibility, and authority in his words as he speaks to his mother shortly before the death of the suitors. Mother, as to the bow and who may handle it or not handle it, no man here has more authority than I do not one lord of our stony Ithaca no one stops me if I choose to give these weapons outright to my guest. Return to your hall. (pg 402) It is amazing that by the end Odysseus and his son fight side by side against the suitors. It is clear at this point that the old Telemachus is gone and all remains is a new, brave, bold, and thoughtful Telemachus.
Homer does a wonderful job in showing Telemachus mature during the course of his epic poem. It is delightful to see a young, foolish boy grow into the proud man he became. Athena helped him get started but it really takes a true hero to get places and keep the status he gains. He is last seen standing with his grandfather Laertes, and Odysseus after successfully reclaiming their homes and defeating the suitors.