'The Odyssey' - Telemachus' Journey

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When does a boy become a man? This rite of passage is explored in Robert Fagles ' translation of Homer 's epic poem, The Odyssey. Odysseus (king of Ithaca) fought in the Trojan War for ten years and after the fall of Troy he spent the next ten years trying to get home. He left behind an infant son, Telemachus, and a devoted wife, Penelope. Although they longed for Odysseus ' return, Penelope and Telemachus were the perfect hosts to wayward strangers - even as their estate became overrun with arrogant suitors - men intent on marrying Penelope and taking possession of the throne. Athena, goddess and daughter of Zeus, is instrumental in encouraging Telemachus to begin his journey to adulthood saying, "You must not cling to your boyhood any …show more content…

At which time, Helen, daughter of Zeus and wife of Menelaus, enters the room and gazes upon her husband 's visitors, her proclamation, directed to Telemachus, confirms Nestor 's beliefs:

... "My heart tells me

to come right out and say I 've never seen such a likeness,

neither in man nor woman - I 'm amazed at the sight.

To the life he 's like the son of great Odysseus,

surely he is Telemachus! The boy that hero left

a babe in arms..."

(4, 155 - 159)

This statement is very telling as it defines not only the appearance of the great Odysseus, but also the son he left behind. Furthermore, it begins to develop a timeline of actions by announcing that Odysseus left home when Telemachus was only a baby. Nestor recognizes that Odysseus ' appearance, vivacity, and personality are apparent in his progeny, Telemachus. This is encouraging to Telemachus as he hears that he resembles the great king Odysseus. As Telemachus presses for news of what has become of his father, Telemachus learns that his father may yet be alive and held captive by a goddess-nymph named Calypso. He then glorifies the strong will of Orestes and encourages Telemachus to do the same: "And you, my friend - / how tall and handsome I see you now - be brave, you too, / so men to come will sing your praises down the years." (3, 226 - 227).

Just as The Odyssey focuses on Odysseus as a mighty soldier it also progressively hints that Telemachus will

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