Father-Son Relationships in The Odyssey
"Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant." This quote, stated by Epictetus, is an ideal depiction of the importance of father-son relationships in Homer’s ancient Greek epic, The Odyssey. The protagonist of The Odyssey, Odysseus, fights among the other Greek heroes at Troy and struggles to return to his kingdom in Ithaca where his loyal wife, Penelope, and his loving son, Telemachus await. Telemachus is an infant when Odysseus leaves for Troy, leaving him alone with his concerned mother and her arrogant suitors. In father-son relationships, both fathers and sons provide and learn from each other while also affecting those outside of the relationship, on both a figurative and literal level.
In this classic epic, a fatherly presence is important in transforming a young and ignorant boy into a well instructed man through life lessons and morals. When Athena, disguised as Mentor, asks Telemachus about his dad, “Young Telemachus cautiously replied, ‘Mother has always told me I’m his son, it’s true, but I am not so certain’ ” (84). With the absence of Odysseus in much of Telemachus’s early life, he lacks confidence, communication skills, and leadership. For example, Telemachus does not have enough courage and strength to rid the suitors from the palace by himself and fails to take control of the kingdom. However, had Odysseus been present in Telemachus’s childhood, Telemachus would have gained valuable lessons such as the importance of confidence and leadership and would have most likely rid the palace of the suitors. Pisistratus, King Nestor’s son, has accomplished many things in his lifetime and is a well respected leader, partly due to the guidance that King Nestor had provided to him. For example, Pisistratus is already the captain of armies and has accomplished many feats. This effective father-son relationship was possible...
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