Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, is on a mission to find his father. The change and progress Telemachus has made from the beginning of The Odyssey, written by Homer, is quite noticeable from being detached from everything to becoming one of the most honored son’s in the eyes of very powerful people. Before meeting the most helpful character in this book, Athena, Telemachus is very aloof, and distant from everyone and everything. He then progresses to being assertive in how he goes about finding his father. After figuring out his plans with Athena, Telemachus goes on his journey and meets different kings and Queens, who knew his father very well. The meetings with these people helped Telemachus progress into a confident and fearless man. The evolution in Telemachus has gone through, is quite stunning in the fact that he changed so fast and that he changed because of the people he met and the places he went to.
Before his sudden greeting from Mentes (Athena), Telemachus is an aloof man who does not know what is going on in his surroundings. Telemachus acts very distant before he meets Athena, for he does not know what to do with himself. As the suitors rummage through his home and eat all of his food and drink all of his wine, Telemachus does not stand up for himself, but just lets them destroy his house as he sits down and watches them. “ Prince Telemachus/ sitting among the suitors, heart obsessed with grief,/he could almost see his magnificent father, here…” (I.132-134). Telemachus just stays to himself and does not let anyone inside of him. His action of just sitting and watching the suitors reveals how he is so lonely with no one there to support him. Telemachus is also very distant and aloof in a way because he does not know the truth about himself, or the past of his Father. As he talks to Athena, he is unsure of his own identity. “ I’ll try my friend, to give you a frank answer,/ Mother has always told me I’m his son, it’s true,/ but I am not so certain.” (I.248-250) The words that he said show that he has been apart from his own culture and world for so long that he does not know how he stands. A way Telemachus comes across as aloof before encountering a plan with Athena, is that he is has absolutely no hope that his father is still alive. “ No Comfort left for us…not even if/ someone, somewhere, say’s he’s coming home,/ the day of his return will never dawn.” (I.194-196) The distance between him and his father is extremely large which gives him no desire to go out and look, and in the end makes him grieve for long periods of time. The first encounter of Telemachus is not very strong, for he is isolated and secluded in his own mind.
The growth in Telemachus has now proved him to be a proactive man with the dignity and power that resembles his father, Odysseus. Though his chat with Athena, Telemachus was able to grow and understand what he needs to do to save his father. In this conversation, Athena gives him the courage and knowledge of Telemachus’ father. As he listens, he starts to become proactive in his actions. After he gets the reassurance he needed from Athena, he goes back to the suitors to tell them off, “ You must leave my palace! See to your feasting elsewhere,/ devour your own possessions, house to house by turns.” (I.430-431) Telemachus gained courage and kicked out the suitors from his house. This action is a major visual of how dramatically Telemachus’ change has been so far. He is already taking charge and making things happen for himself. He scared the suitors from his drastic change, “ and they all bit their lips,/ amazed the prince could speak with so much daring,” (I.438-439) As Telemachus is becoming fired up, his appearance also shows how he has improved as he, “ strode in too, a bronze spear in his grip/and not alone: two sleek hounds went trotting at his heals.” (II.10-11) His new mindset wants to get things done so he starts taking leadership and leads the assembly. Telemachus is changing so much that he is even willing to take risks in his life now. He is no longer the safe guy, he is now making pacts about his father and is risking his life and mostly his mothers life over his journey.
Now if I hear my Father’s alive and heading home,/
Hard-pressed as I am, I’ll brave out one more year,/
If I hear he’s dead, no longer among the living,/
then back I’ll come to the native land I love. (II.243-246) Telemachus is so sure with himself that he will find his father. He is so sure that he even bet his mother’s pride and womanhood. Telemachus has already undergone so many changes so far, that his growth and development can only improve and make him stronger.
After Telemachus sets sail, the farther he gets from Ithica, the more confident he becomes in how he presents himself. On his journey, Telemachus goes to the island of Pylos, and meets King Nestor. As the new “ poised Telemachus” (III.84) explains to King Nestor who he is and what he came for, he did not in the end get what he had asked for, which was the answer to the question about his father. Not only did the new eager and confident Telemachus not give up, he went to Sparta on another adventure to see Menelaus. The stories that Menelaus told to Telemachus really gave him the strength to go after his father. Even before the stories were told, Telemachus had a sense of what was needed when speaking to Menelaus so he could live up to his father’s legacy, which he did. Menelaus complimented him when saying, “ Your Father’s son you are – your words have all his wisdom.” (IV.229) Menelaus understood where Telemachus was coming from, and what his background was. Telemachus is showing so much maturity at this time for he is asking Menelaus for the truth, good or bad, he wants the truth. “ I came in the hope that you can tell me now/ some news about my father.............., tell me the truth,” (IV.351). The confidence and poise of Telemachus at this time is much more visible and has shown a huge change over the past books.
The maturity and growth of Telemachus is amazing in the fact that it happened in such a short period of time. Every time he met a different person or was in a different situation that was out of his comfort zone of being distant. He was able to adapt and change to better himself. He was in a way performing natural selection in his own style. When he was at his home in Ithica with the suitors swarming around, he was unable to connect himself to anything, which evidently caused him to suffer by losing control. When he met Athena for the first time, she made him adapt and change to what she wanted him to be. With her guidance and encouragement, Telemachus was able to go even further and adapt to what King Nestor had told him, and soon enough what had led to meeting Menelaus. All of these encounters with people helped him become the man he is now, and he will continue this progress as he meets new people and goes to more unique places on his journey to find his father.