Telemachus: A Character Analysis Essay

989 Words 4 Pages
In the first four books of Homer’s The Odyssey, the character of Telemachus undergoes a dramatic evolution. When Homer first introduces him, he appears to be an unsophisticated youth, wallowing in self-pity. After the goddess Athena intervenes, he becomes, seemingly, a man of courage, strength, and resolve. On closer analysis, however, one remains to wonder if this transformation is genuine. The rapidity of his change in personality and the assistance he requires from the goddess at every stage in his journey suggests that he is not yet a hero in the mold of his father, the great Odysseus.
The reader first finds the character of Telemachus sitting among the suitors in his father’s palace. This seemingly unimportant detail yields
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This can be seen when they address Telemachus after his discourse: “only the gods could teach you to be so high and mighty” (I.441-442). The fact the transformation was so rapid does lead the reader to speculate about how durable a change it really is.
The next task that Athena asks of Telemachus is to prepare for and embark on a journey in search of his father. Any energetic young man would, it seems, jump at the chance to participate in such an adventure, especially if he had been living such a tortured existence and if the gods sanctioned the voyage. Instead, Telemachus proves to be somewhat listless, almost apathetic. This becomes apparent when Athena advises Telemachus to assemble a crew in order to sail to Pylos and to Sparta. Telemachus takes no initiative but simply allows Athena to make the necessary arrangements. She procures a vessel, even though she had expressly asked that he do it. Athena also plans the itinerary for the journey completely. It is difficult to fault Telemachus on this last count, however, because he realizes by this time that she is a goddess and it would be foolish to attempt to alter her plans. Nevertheless, his lack of initiative and decisiveness again leaves one wondering what would happen if he were to undertake such a journey on his own.
Even Telemachus’ ability to communicate is presented by Homer as so "god-given" that it is, once

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