Robert Fagles offers his own perspective on Homer's The Odyssey, emphasizing the growth of a young boy into an adult. This development is illustrated through the main character Odysseus, who ruled Ithaca and fought in the Trojan War for ten years. After Troy fell, he set out on a ten-year journey to be reunited with his family, leaving behind his newborn son Telemachus.
Penelope, a loyal wife, eagerly awaited the return of Odysseus with her son Telemachus. Despite their longing for his homecoming, Penelope and Telemachus graciously welcomed wanderers onto their land, even in the midst of numerous suitors vying for Penelope's hand in marriage and the throne.
Athena, the goddess and daughter of Zeus, plays a crucial role in advocating for Telemachus to start his journey towards adulthood, expressing, "You must not cling to your boyhood any longer - / it’s tim...
e you were a man." (1. 341-342).
Young Telemachus first encounters Athena, who is disguised as Mentes, the son of Anchialus, while he is seated among the suitors.
Telemachus, suffering from a heavy heart and daydreaming about his father, invites Athena into his home. Athena evokes strong emotions in Telemachus by saying, "You really are Odysseus' son? You've grown so much! / Uncanny resemblance... The head, and the fine eyes - / I see him now." (1.240-242).
By acknowledging his similarity to Odysseus, Athena stirs up Telemachus' deep emotions for the father he barely knows and triggers the growth of inner strength that Telemachus needs to confront his upcoming trials. It is evident that Telemachus reacts positively to Athena's support when he advises his astonished mother to focus on her own tasks.
Telemachus declares, "As for giving orders, work
forces will see to that. But above all, I hold the reins of power in this house." (1.412-414).
The current text discusses the early development of self-respect and the pursuit of a meaningful life. However, the speaker urges listeners to return to their original location. Unfortunately, respect has not yet been earned and despite this, the listeners remain unwilling to leave, recognizing that their mother had wrongly instilled hopes for marriage.
Even though Telemachus is displaying signs of maturity as he starts to show strength and composure, the suitors still mistreat and mock him. It is also worth noting that his loyal nurse still sees him as a child and protests against his departure when he informs her that he is going to search for his father. Despite their reactions, Telemachus remains resolute in embarking on his journey. Perhaps the achievement of adulthood brings the rewards of recognition and respect, and it is this that drives him.
Telemachus desires both to find his father and establish a bond with him. Prior to embarking on his journey, the Gods convene in Zeus's halls where they reminisce about the tale of Aegisthus.
Orestes, the offspring of Agamemnon, is accountable for the murder. Zeus expresses sorrow, saying "Oh, it is truly shameless for these people to condemn the Gods and attribute all their misfortunes solely to us."
Yes, but they themselves, with their own reckless ways, amplify their efforts beyond what is appropriate. It's like a child who blames others for their own mistakes.
Telemachus, lacking the wisdom of experience and age, blames Zeus for the difficulties faced by adult men. This explains why the gods play a prominent role in The Odyssey; their
actions and words are important to Telemachus' development and essential to the poem's essence. For example, Athena assists Telemachus on his journey, but ultimately he is accountable for his own decisions.
Telemachus arrives in Pylos with Athena's support and meets Nestor, the king of the Pylians and the eldest of the Achaean captains. Telemachus introduces himself as Lord Odysseus' son and begs to know the truth about his missing father. Initially, Nestor remembers past events and talks about the war against the Trojans. Eventually, he notices how much Telemachus resembles his smart father in terms of speaking skills: "Your way with words – it's just like his – I would swear / no child could ever speak like you."
so disposed. so revealing. ” (3. 139 – 140).
Upon entering the room, Helen, daughter of Zeus and wife of Menelaus, lays her eyes upon her husband's guests and makes an announcement.
Nestor confirms his beliefs to Telemachus, expressing astonishment at the sight. He has never seen such a resemblance in any man or woman before, stating that Telemachus looks exactly like his father, Odysseus. This confirms Telemachus' identity as the hero's son and highlights the significance of Odysseus' presence.
In addition to leaving behind his child, the text also mentions that Odysseus departed from the location when Telemachus was very young. Nestor acknowledges that his son possesses the same appearance, energy, and character as Odysseus.
Telemachus is receiving encouragement and compliments for his likeness to King Odysseus, his father. He strongly desires to learn the fate of his father and learns that there is a chance he remains alive, although held captive by the goddess-nymph Calypso. Telemachus admires Orestes' perseverance and
urges him to imitate Orestes' actions, saying, "And you."
My friend, I admire your current height and handsomeness. Have courage, my dear friend. In the future, men will continue to sing your praises for years to come. (3.226-227).
The central theme of The Odyssey revolves around Odysseus being depicted as a formidable warrior, while also implying that Telemachus will soon become a formidable soldier when the suitors plot against him. As Telemachus discovers his similarities to King Odysseus, he gains a greater admiration for his father and cultivates inner resilience.
Unbeknownst to him, Telemachus is maturing and assuming the duties of both the Prince of Athens and a devoted son. Concerned about his mother and their home, he expresses, "My house is being consumed."
"My rich farms destroyed. My castle crammed with enemies. Butchering on and on. My droves of sheep and shuffling longhorn cows." (4)
Telemachus learns, through each encounter, not only from his father's companions but also from the gods, about Odysseus' cunning and wit (356-358).
Despite the external circumstances, Telemachus demonstrates a contemplative and compassionate nature. As an example, he extends an invitation to Theoclymenus, a transient and divine seer, to join him on his ship, even as they approach the treacherous Jagged Islands.
Uncertain of whether he will face illness, Telemachus takes charge of the ship, loudly giving instructions to his fellow sailors. He has come a long way from the young and naive boy who once sat among the suitors.
Watching them recklessly devour his cows and destroy his place! Telemachus is fascinating as he comes of age amidst mounting inquiries regarding the gods' involvement in the affairs of mortals. Steady and poised, Telemachus, the brave son of
King Odysseus, becomes a man deserving of respect and admiration. He proves himself to be versatile and esteemed by his peers and servants.
Telemachus grew up with his parents and fought alongside his heroic father. He avenged the insults and taunts from his father's enemies. He gained a lot of life experience from his travels. Telemachus left his home as a boy and returned as a man.
- Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. . Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Books. 1996.
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