In first few books of The Odyssey, it almost seems as though Telemachus is the central character since the introduction of his father does not come until after Telemachus has experienced an “awakening” to his responsibilities. Although Telemachus never quite matches his father Odysseus in terms of wit, strength, agility, and other qualities befitting a hero, he does experience significant growth throughout the text. In Book I of The Odyssey, Telemachus is not yet mature, nor does he have the confidence or ability to stand up to the many suitors who greedily devour the family’s vast stockpile of food and wine. “He’s lost and gone now- out of sight, out of mind- and I . . . he’s left me tears and grief”(Homer 85). This shows how much of a difference Telemachus is without his father. He just sat there and had no motivation until Athena came. When Telemachus arrives back in Ithaca he confronts the suitors with intelligence and poise. “So high and mighty, Telemachus-such unbridled rage!” (Homer 367). In this quote Antinous directly characterizes Telemachus and a high and mighty person. “Fools, you’re out of your minds! No hiding it, food and wine have gone to your heads. I, for one, I’ll drive no guest away.” (Homer 389).He’s not frightened of the suitors anymore and when he talks he is articulate and full of power. Although this self-pity is only a minor part of the opening of the text, when analyzing Telemachus it is important to see the helpless and immature state he is in so that his later development of inner strength will further define him as the son of a hero.
Homer, The Odyssey, Trans, Robert Fagles, New York: Viking, 1996.