Coming of Age Telemakhos in the Odyssey Essay

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Coming of Age: Telemakhos in "The Odyssey"

We often hear the line, "Like father, like son" and Homer's "The Odyssey" gives us an opportunity to see how this line can actually work in life. With a father like Odysseus, one might feel a bit of intimidation and insecurity, so it is understandable that Telemakhos might have a rough time being his son. In such a scenario, a weak individual might never reach his or her full potential because the idea of a great father becomes a burden rather than an inspiration. Telemakhos struggles a bit with who he is at the beginning of the story but by the end, he is confident in who he is and much of this comes from his ability to be open to opportunities that allow him to learn and grow. He does not have time to be bitter nor does he waste time worrying about not being Odysseus -- he simply decides that he is who he is and his future and fate is up to him. His journey is similar to his father's in the sense that he learns from it. Telemakhos does not ever reach the same stature as his father, but he does earn respect by the end of the story, claiming his own right as an individual.

Odysseus is a formidable hero to which to be compared. He allows his experience to shape him into a strong individual. It seems with each adventure, he evolves. Early in the story, he is prone to act before he thinks, as we see with Poseidon. By the end of the tale, he weighs the consequences of his actions. While posing as a strange beggar, he reaches maturity, waiting until the time is right to act upon the other suitors. He is careful and confident by this point in the story and this makes him a more likable character. His journey to the underworld caused him to face many issues in his past and this enabled him to seek forgiveness and move toward enlightenment. He also learns to focus before battle. He does not allow himself to become distracted by things that might cause him to make a bad decision. Always a hero, he earns more respect with every situation he handles with caution and care. He defeats danger, restoring peace to those Ithaca. He reveals his honor when he says, "Men hold me/formidable for guile in peace and war: / this fame has gone abroad to the sky's rim" (Homer IX.19-21). Odysseus is proud and has every right to be. His lessons teach him that almost everything comes down to who is for him and who is against him. It does not need to be much more complicated than that and with this line of thinking, Odysseus becomes successful.

Telemakhos can never truly be compared to his father and perhaps one of the most challenging ideas for him was realizing he could never reach his father's status or character. However, he does come to earn his own respect by the end of the tale. The people he encounters influence him greatly. Menelaus and Nestor are two characters that shape Telemakhos. When he speaks to King Nestor, he expresses no fear or hesitation when he tells him if he can tell him about his father's death, "I beg you-if ever my father, lord Odysseus, pledged you his word and made it good in action once on the fields of Troy where you Achaeans suffered, remember his story now, tell me the truth" ( III. 109-112). In this scene, Telemakhos expresses his sentiments clearly and we see his character beginning to change and mature. Nestor compliments him on his articulation and says, "no youngster could ever speak like him" (III.140). It is also worth noting that Telemakhos' knowledge of his father's greatness influences his growth. He knows his father was a hero and Menelaus' stories about Odysseus inspire him to be the best he can be. Nestor tells Telemakhos that his father was better than the Spartans at everything and this gives him hope that he can be the same kind of leader. He takes this hope and does the right thing with it, cultivating it rather than burying it.

Telemakhos is inspired early on to set forth on a journey to find information regarding his father. He declares that the suitor's are destroying his life and moves forward with a vengeance. During the first books of "The…[continue]

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