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...
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