The Journey to Find Oneself “You must not cling to your boyhood any longer- It’s time you were a man. ” (I: 341-42). The Odyssey is not only a story of the great Odysseus, but also a story of a young boy who finally gets to take a journey to find his inner self. Everyone goes through a stage in life where they feel lost, however, what differentiates people are the people who make changes verses the people who blame others for there misfortunes. Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, is a young boy going through this problem. Since he never had the father figure in his life, he blames that for his failures of never growing up or taking power. He could almost see his magnificent father, here… in the mind’s eye- if only he might drop from the clouds and drive these suitors all in a rout throughout the halls and regain his pride of place and rule his own domains! (I: 133-37). Telemachus has not yet moved onto the role to protect his mother and he, nor became the man of the house while his father is gone. He is waiting for life to happen, rather than going out and living it. Even though Telemachus may not have that ‘father role’ right in front of him he is lucky to have two characters be there for a mother role.
Not only is there Penelople, his birth mother, who is having the suitors take advantage of her. Telemachus has Athena, Zeus’ daughter, there to help him through his journey. “What’s this banqueting, this crowd carousing here? And what part do you play yourself? Some wedding-feast, some festival? Hardly a potluck supper, I would say. How obscenely they lounge and swagger here, look, gorging in your house. Why, any man of sense who chanced among them would be outraged, seeing such behavior,” (I: 260-66).
Athena may not directly telling Telemachus to grow up, however she is hinting towards him, for him to find in his own means that he should be the one taking control of his household. In regards to all of this, Telemachus doesn’t know this is actually Athena helping him and think she is a stranger or as she called her self ‘Mentes’. However, does Athena’s wise words and beliefs that Odysseus is still alive give Telemachus a push in the right direction? “So mother, go back to your quarters, Tend to your own tasks, the distaff and the loom, and keep the women working hard as well.
As for giving orders, men will see to that, but I most of all: I hold the reins of power in this house. ” (I: 409-14). This most certainly shows that Athena did finally give him the insight to finally not loose hope in his fathers return. It also, shows Telemachus first real steps in trying to be dominant and be the man he should already be. It definitely does not show that he has changed completely, but it is a step in the right direction. In that text, Telemachus is speaking to Penelope, however, Penelope is not mad that his son is acting this way, she is rather glad.
She is also proud because she sees a mere shadow of her son finally showing characteristic of her loving husband. Since Telemachus isn’t yet aware of his true identity, which in fact, shares some of the same characteristics of his great father, Athena is there to set him up in ways for him to learn for himself, with only just a little help, of what his inner self beholds. Athena or as he knows her as, Mentes, tells him to go on an actual journey. Telemachus doesn’t yet know that this journey will also be a journey to better him.
After showing his first steps of dominance, this characteristic also shows through when talking to the suitors, “Antinous, even though my words may offend you, I’d be happy to take the crown if Zeus presents it. You think that nothing worse could befall a man? It’s really not so bad to be a king. All at once your palace grows in wealth, your honors grow as well. But there are hosts of other Achaean princes, look- young and old, crowds of them on our island here- and any of the lost might hold the throne, now great Odysseus is dead … But I’ll be lord of my own house and servants all that King Odysseus won for me by force. (I: 445-56) Antinous is one of the biggest villains in this story, for Telemachus to stand up to him, even if not taken serious, is another huge step to this journey. However, does Telemachus really feel this great confidence he portrays in his voice, or is he only acting this way in front of Mentes? He does show some intelligence when he thinks that Mentes might actually be Athena. However, after he speaks at the assembly in front of the whole town and suitors, we see that in fact Telemachus isn’t as confident as he tries to be. “Dear god, hear me!
Yesterday you came to my house, you told me to ship out on the misty sea and learn if father, gone so long, is every coming home. . . Look how my countrymen- the suitors most of all, the pernicious bullies- foil each move I make. ”(II: 293-99). When he is not speaking in front of the men and to himself he is still unsure of everything and wanting the help of the Gods. He is not yet fully confident in himself, especially not confident enough to take on the role of his father. Telemachus doesn’t show that he is ready or if he even really wants to embark on this trip.
Luckily, Athena always had wise words in motivating Telemachus back into gaining his confidence. Telemachus stands up to the suitors one last time saying, “But now that I’m full-grown and can hear the truth, from others, absorb it too- now, yes, that the anger seethes inside me . . . I’ll stop at nothing to hurl destruction at your heads, whether I go to Pylos or sit tight here at home. But the trip I speak of will not end in failure. ” (II: 347-54). Telemachus distinguishes himself now as a man rather than a young boy.
Even though these words string from Athena’s advice, he is finally starting to believe in himself. He is ready to really take a leap to his journey. Athena, being the great ‘captain’ she is, has now revealed herself and continues to guide Telemachus both through the shores and in his mind. She takes him to meet King Nestor, who knew Odysseus and was able to share stories of his father. The good thing about Athena is that she does not abruptly tells Telemachus all these lessons, but takes him to places so he can help find out these lessons for himself.
By meeting Nestor, he gets real war stories, which makes the goal to reach his father so much more exhilarating. However the words that catches Telemachus the most is when Nestor says, “Your father yes, if you are in fact his son. . . I look at you and a sense of wonder takes me. Your way with words- it’s just like his- I’d swear” (III: 137-39). This is the first time Telemachus really hears the words that he is like his father. He has always heard great things about his father, and how he was such a great man and the best solider. Being told he is like his father is such a great confidence boost.
Even in today’s day if someone is to tell you, you remind him or her of your mother or father, it’s a reward within itself. The next part of this journey was to go off and see Sparta’s King and Queen, Menelaus and Helen. When these ‘strangers’ come up to the door, Menelaus isn’t concerned but rather says, “Just think of all the hospitality we enjoyed at the hands of other men before we made it home, and god save us from such hard treks in years to come. Quick, unhitch their team. And bring them in, strangers, guests, to share our flowing feast. ”(IV: 37-42).
Coming here brings up an important theme in the story, the idea of xenia, or hospitality, and that a true man knows the feeling of what is feels like to be a good host and what it feels like to be a good stranger. Telemachus is out of his element; he really has never been a stranger, but only a stranger to his own self. Not only does Nestor see resemblance in Telemachus and his father, so does Menelaus. Menelaus, also one who fought along side of Odysseus, tells some of his greatest war stories. After hearing all these great stories, especially how his father was the epic hero of the war, and a mastermind creating the Trojan horse.
Telemachus is almost at his peek of finally finding himself. Knowing his father was such a great impact on everyone and that he reminds people of him is such a great accomplishment and motivation to just find him already. Athena bringing Telemachus to these people was exactly what he needed. He now heads back to home with all the knowledge he has learned, but will it be enough to fight off the suitors who plan to kill him? “Menelaus, royal son of Atreus, captain of armies, let me go back to my own country now. The heart inside me longs for home at last. ” (XV: 69-73). While Telemachus is on his journey back home so is his father.
Even though this journey over seas is almost to an end, the journey of Telemachus is still not completed. He finally has a sense of pride and great confidence. He finally sees his duty as the dominant figure that should have taken over along time ago while his father was gone. Even though he knows the suitors could kill him, his true bravery comes in, and he’s ready for the next step of his journey. Both Telemachus and Odysseus both are at their dear friend Eumaeous’ house, but are not yet introduced to each other. Odysseus doesn’t look like him self and is dressed as a beggar; he wants to trick his son to see what he’s all about.
As Athena being the great goddess she is, she comes and changes Odysseus back to his self, Telemachus is in denial and doesn’t believe it’s his father who stands in front of him. The two of them now have a greater mission to accomplish, fight off the suitors who took over there home. Odysseus knows with the power of himself and his son they could fight the suitors alone, however at first Telemachus’ doesn’t feel as courageous. Until Odysseus says, “Or shall I rack my brains for another champion? ” Telemachus answered shred fully, full of poise, “Two great champions, those you name, it’s true.
Of in the clouds they sit and they lord it over gods and mortal men. ” (XVI: 289-97). This is the first time in this epic poem, that we can actually see how much Telemachus has grown and how confident and brave he really is. The two great mean work together to devise the ultimate plan to get their family back and the suitors dead. Telemachus now back from his journey, is he a new man or still the young boy from the beginning of it all? Did he take in each lesson that Athena led him or did he swallow himself in his own pity because of the years spent without his father?
Does Telemachus finally become the man he can grow proud of or the man with no true meaning in his life? Not only did Telemachus learn great strengths, bravery, and courage. He also notices the fact that he is not the man he once was. “Don’t let me see more offenses in my house, not from anyone! I’m alive to it all, now, the good and the bad- the boy you knew is gone. ” (XX: 345-48). Not only does he refer to the house as his but also, he now has his eyes opens to all the things around him. His focus isn’t just about his struggles, but about the struggles the affect his home. But, I most of all: I hold the reins of power in this house. ” (XXI: 393-94). Telemachus has used this line before, however it was when he was at the beginning of his journey. From the first steps to now, his confidence has increased and the line has much more meaning to it. Not only is he now a man of great dignity, but also a great fighter. “Telemachus-too quick- stabbed the man from behind, plunging his bronze spear between the suitor’s shoulders and straight on through his chest the point came jutting out”(XXII: 97-9). He is no more a scared, coward but strong and wise.
Not only does he hold the characteristics of his father, but he also has his own identity. “’Stop don’t cut him down! ’ This one’s innocent, So is the herald Medon- the one who always tended me in the house when I was little- spare him too. ”(XXII: 376-381). Unlike his father, who wants too kill every one of the suitors, Telemachus lessons from xenia, show that one who treated him right should be treated with the same respect. Telemachus is truly the great Odysseus’ son; there could be no greater honor. He may now wipe the pity from his soul and look in the mirror with great integrity.