Becoming a man. The goal attempted by all young boys, but achieved by few. Around the age of fifteen the dream of going on some adventure and risking death to prove bravery is envisioned in our heads and we go crazy. We scan every moment of our teenage lives for a chance at manhood and in some form or other we all get one. Usually it isn’t an extravagant adventure as we’d like, but some menial task we have to settle for. For Telemachos, on the other hand, it’s the quest of a lifetime. To sail off in search of his father, to protect his home, and defend his mother. What more could a boy ask for? Sure, the odds were against him. Sure, he could have been killed. But did that stop Telemachos? No way. With the help of Athena, he sailed off as a boy, and returned as a man.
Our first impression of Telemachos is a skinny, whiney, helpless little boy. Men have invaded his house, taken his food, and are wooing his mother. Athena comes and visits him to ask of his situation. He cowardly tells her:
” ‘?These [men] eating up my substance
waste it away; and soon they will break
me myself to pieces.’ “p.33 lines 250-251
Obviously Telemachos is still too young to take charge. So Athena suggests he go sail and seek word of his father’s condition. The next day he calls a meeting of the town council and asks for help. He receives none. This is the decisive moment when he chooses to go out and be a man. So Telmachos decides to do it alone, mind you now Athena is still on his side. She gets the men and a boat, he gets the provisions. When all is ready, Athena tells him to sneak out of his house, a sign that Telemachos is still a boy and needs assistance.
Telemachos goes to see Nestor. A fine king who was a friend off his father’s. Nestor treats Telemachos royally, but has no news of Oddyseus. Telemachos is a little distraught, but he decides to make a land journey to see Menelaos. He sets off in the morning and reaches the castle at dusk. Immediately he goes to Menelaos. They eat and then Telemachos gets revealed as the son of Odysseus. After a brief welcoming, Telemachos gets to the point. He asks of his father and if he is alive. Menelaos says that he does have some news that might prove useful.
” ‘?[The old man of the sea] saw [Odysseus]
on an island, weeping big tears in the palace
of the nymph Kalypso, and she detains by
constraint, and he cannot make his way to
his country, for he has not any ships by him,
nor any companions who can convey him
back across the sea’s wide ridges.’ “
p.79 lines 556-560
Even after such good news, Telemachos is still doubtful of his father’s condition. It seems obvious that Telemachos’s character is still too weak to have confidence in his father’s return. He decides to stay with Menelaos for a few days and also receives many gifts from the king. There Telemachos stayed as a happy guest until Athena tells him of what’s ahead.
Athena informs Telemachos that it’s time to return to Ithika. She also warns him that some of the suitors are waiting in a ship to ambush him. By now, Telemachos has matured a lot and doesn’t seem too worried over the situation. His ship returns home in one piece, and he goes to see Eumaos. There he meets a beggar who turns out to be Odysseus. They plot the death of the suitors together, as men. They set a trap and when the time is right, together they kill all 108 suitors. Telemachos shows quite a change from his former self. Standing beside and following his father’s example has made Telemachos much moregrown up. He is now bold, brave, and courageous. He stands up to the suitors. When the townspeople come to avenge the deaths of their kin, Odysseus acknowledges that Telemachos is now and a man, and he must be brave and bring honor to his name. To this Telemachos answers:
” ‘You will see, dear father, if you wish,
that as far as my will goes, I will not
shame the blood that comes from you,
Which you speak of.’ “p.358 lines 511-512
The absence of a man from his home forced Telemachos to stand up and become one. He needed the help of Athena almost the whole time, but then again, so did his father Odysseus, a man known throughout the world for his bravery, strength, and cunning. Being a man in Greece basically means to stand up for yourself and be the master of your home. To fight with bravery and to display your strength. Telemachos was a boy whose circumstances forced him to become a man. In the end, we see him depart just like his father, strong, smart, brave, and pig-headed.