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Odysseus and Telemachus

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 972
  • Category: Odysseus

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Three traits that Odysseus and Telemakhos share are clear-headedness, eloquence, and showing strong emotion. They are portrayed with these traits in the Odyssey, composed by Homer. Odysseus is a renowned military strategist, warrior, and the King of Ithaca. He was forced to go to war against Troy twenty years ago, and since then has traveled all over the Aegean trying to find a way back home. Meanwhile, his son, Telemakhos, has developed into a full-grown man from the mere infant he was when his father left for war. He has searched far and wide for news of his father, still hoping, along with his mother, Penelope, that Odysseus is still alive somewhere and somehow, even though most have assumed he is dead. Through his ventures, Telemakhos develops into a man almost identical to his father in every way, learning to step up and act like the prince he is. Odysseus and Telemakhos are both portrayed as very clear-headed in The Odyssey. This can be defined as the ability to keeps one’s temper level and mind unclouded in battle or to be able to think clearly in times of confusion when other men would have become confused. Telemakhos portrays this trait several times throughout the story.

“Clear-headed Telemakhos replied…” (Homer 23). Instead of losing his resolve when he is faced with adversity, he merely draws his thoughts together and calmly responds. Odysseus shows this trait in several situations also. For example, when he and his men are trapped in Polyphemus the Cyclops’ cave, Odysseus reflects, “But I kept thinking how to win the game: death sat there huge; how could we slip away? I drew on all my wits, and ran through tactics, reasoning as a man will for dear life, until a trick came—and it pleased me well” (Homer 157). Odysseus stays calm and figures out a plan so he and his men can escape alive. He does not let the fact that there is a huge Cyclops ready to eat him and his men dissuade him from achieving the near impossible. Odysseus and Telemakhos are also both very eloquent. This means that they both have, and exercise, the power of fluent, forceful, and appropriate speech, and they are able to greatly influence others with their words. Telemakhos is compared to his father by Nestor, the King of Pylos, “Well, I must say I marvel at the sight of you: your manner of speech couldn’t be more like his; one would say No; no boy could speak so well” (Homer 38-39).

Telemakhos grows more and more knowledgeable about how to use his words to his advantage as he matures through his experiences traveling for news of his father. By saying that Telemakhos’ manner of speech could not be more like his (Odysseus’), Nestor is saying Odysseus and Telemakhos are matched in the ways of the tongue, and that none are more persuasive than either of them. Odysseus is known by all to be a master of words. He uses his eloquence to his advantage in many situations. For example, when he is marooned on the island of Scheria with no clothes or provisions, he meets the princess Nausikaa. He woos her with his speech, praising her beauty, and gets her to show him the way to the town by saying “Mistress: please: are you divine, or mortal? If one of those who dwell in the wide heaven, you are most near to Artemis, I should say—great Zeus’s daughter—in your grace and presence…Never have I laid eyes on equal beauty in man or woman. I am hushed indeed” (Homer 103).

He uses his way with words to speak up a story to convince her that he is merely an innocent man in need of aid. The princess, enamored with him and his flattering words, clothes him and leads him to the town. Odysseus and Telemakhos also both become very emotional. This means that they are easily affected by emotion and may respond to situations or make decisions according their feelings. Telemakhos and Odysseus both become very emotional in several instances through out The Odyssey. In Book XVI, Telemakhos (and Odysseus) begins weeping when he learns that his father is indeed alive, and that they are together again. “Salt tears rose form the wells of longing in both men, and cries burst from both as keen and fluttering as those of the great taloned hawk, whose nestlings farmers take before they fly. So helplessly they cried, pouring out tears…” (Homer 296). After longing to see him for such a prolonged period of time, never having met him, it was almost too impossible for Telemakhos to believe that the old beggar was actually his father in disguise.

Odysseus, aside from in this situation, shows his emotions very clearly also. In Book VIII, when Demodocus sings about the story of the Trojan Horse, Odysseus begins crying. “And Odysseus let the molten tears run down his cheeks, weeping the way a wife mourns for her lord on the lost field where he has gone down fighting the day of wrath that came upon his children” (Homer 141). Odysseus, overcome with emotion, begins weeping at the memories of his perished comrades that are stirred up by the song. Odysseus and Telemakhos are both clear-headed, eloquent, and emotional. These are but three of the traits that they share. They both can keep their head clear in battle, and think quickly to get out of bad situations. They both are able to use their powerful speech to get things to go their way. Both also can become very emotional at times. This shows what a great impact a father has on his son. By setting a good example for Telemakhos, Odysseus guaranteed that Telemakhos would be just as great a man as he was.

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