“Maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had, and what you've learned from them, and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated. ” – Anonymous (Thinkexist. com). Maturity is a key theme during the journeys of Telemachus and Odysseus. In Homer’s Odyssey the journeys of Telemachus and Odysseus have many similarities and differences such as their common goal and the lessons they learn; and only by overcoming these obstacles are they able to become emotionally stronger and find success in Ithaca.
Odysseus and Telemachus’ respective journeys have many similarities such as the common enemy the share and the goal they are fighting towards. First, due to Odysseus’ long absence after the war, he was thought to be dead, which led to a large influx of suitors wishing to marry Penelope. During The Odyssey the suitors represent a common enemy between Telemachus and Odysseus. “The sons are pestering my mother to marry them against her will. They are afraid to go to her father hanging about my father's house never giving as much as a thought to the quantity of wine they drink.
No estate can stand such recklessness; we have now no [Odysseus] to ward off harm from our doors, and I cannot hold my own against them” (Butler BK 2). The suitors not only threaten Telemachus’ right as King of Ithaca, but they also threaten Odysseus’ home and marriage to Penelope. Next, in addition to sharing a common enemy, Telemachus and Odysseus both have a common goal in mind throughout their journeys; to reunite their family. Telemachus sets out to Pylos and Sparta hoping to find his father and drive off the suitors, while Odysseus is also trying to return to Ithaca to see his wife and son after his 20 year absence.
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He uses his powers of persuasion to gain Calypso’s favor shortly before leaving her island; "Goddess," replied [Odysseus], "do not be angry … Penelope is nothing like so tall or so beautiful as yourself. Nevertheless, I want to get home, and can think of nothing else” (Butler BK 5). It is this drive and determination that Odysseus and Telemachus eventually share that eventually able aids them in reuniting at the end of The Odyssey. Odysseus and Telemachus have one final thing in common on their journeys; they are both aided by Athena.
Athena had been an ally of Odysseus since the Trojan War, mainly because she reminded him of herself. Throughout The Odyssey Athena aides both heroes on several occasions; Athena begs her father Zeus to allow her to aid Odysseus, so he can go home to his family, "Father, son of [Kronos], King of kings, it served Aegisthus right … it is for [Odysseus] that my heart bleeds, when I think of his sufferings in that lonely sea-girt island, far away, poor man, from all his friends” (Butler BK 1).
Athena helps Telemachus by getting him his ship and crew before the journey to search for word of Odysseus, and develops a bond with both of them throughout the story. Despite the many similarities, Odysseus and Telemachus are very different; as evidenced by the way they behave, their respective upbringings, and the lessons they learn. The first main difference between Odysseus and Telemachus is the way they behave under pressure. Odysseus, having had many years of experience and the gift of persuasive speaking, tends to handle problems with patience and careful planning.
This can be seen as he charms Nausicaa into aiding him on Scheria, "O queen," he said, "I implore your aid- but tell me, are you a goddess or are you a mortal woman? If you are a goddess … you are [Zeus’] daughter Diana, for your face and figure resemble none but hers; if on the other hand you are a mortal and live on earth, … how proud and delighted they must feel when they see so fair a scion as yourself going out to a dance. I never yet saw any one so beautiful, neither man nor woman, and am lost in admiration as I behold you” (Butler BK 6).
Telemachus, however, lacks this maturity and seems to act more on impulse. This can be seen when he has an emotional outburst in the Ithacan assembly, “Moreover, if I am to be eaten out of house and home at all, I had rather you did the eating yourselves, for I could then take action against you to some purpose, and serve you with notices from house to house till I got paid in full, whereas now I have no remedy. ’ With this Telemachus dashed his staff to the ground and burst into tears. Everyone was very sorry for him, but they all sat still and no one ventured to make him an angry answer” (Butler BK 2).
One can see that by using his persuasion Odysseus is able to prevail, while Telemachus’ angry outbursts do nothing but hurt his reputation This absence of maturity ties into the next key difference between Odysseus and Telemachus; which is the way that they were raised. Odysseus lived a rich and fulfilling childhood as a prince on Ithaca under his father Laertes and his mother Anticlea. He was given all the guidance and enrichment needed for him to grow into the hero he would eventually become. Telemachus on the other hand, was raised without a father.
Odysseus left for the Trojan War when he was only an infant and did not return for 20 years, which meant that Telemachus grew up without the guidance he needed to become a man. Athena was eventually forced to step in and help boost his confidence during Telemachus’ journey, “[Athena] led the way and Telemachus followed her. Presently she said, “Telemachus, you must not be in the least shy or nervous; you have taken this voyage to try and find out where your father is buried and how he came by his end; so go straight up to Nestor that we may see what he has got to tell us.
Beg of him to speak the truth, and he will tell no lies, for he is an excellent person" (Butler BK 3). If it weren’t for this lack of a father, he may have had the courage to stand up to the suitors himself. The final key difference between Odysseus and Telemachus is the lessons that they learn throughout The Odyssey. Odysseus and Telemachus both go through a great deal of change during their journeys and each benefit from it. Odysseus learns to set his pride aside.
This can be seen as Odysseus is found crying on the beach of Calypso’s island, a far different Odysseus than the cunning, arrogant hero pictured in The Iliad, “Ulysses was not within; he was on the sea-shore as usual, looking out upon the barren ocean with tears in his eyes, groaning and breaking his heart for sorrow” (Butler BK 5). This represents his ritual death, because not only is he believed to be dead by Ithaca, but he is at one of his life’s lowest points. It is only after overcoming this that he will be able to return home. Telemachus learns a lesson almost opposite to Odysseus.
Telemachus learns to be a man and gains self-confidence. This process of maturation is set in motion by the Goddess Athena in book two where she says to Telemachus, "You’ll lack neither courage nor sense from this day on, not if your father's spirit courses through your veins- now there was a man, I'd say, in words and actions both! Few sons are equals of their fathers; most fall short, all too few surpass them. But you brave and adept from this day on- Odysseus' cunning has hardly given out in you- there's every hope that you will reach your goal" (Butler BK 2).
Here Athena is telling Telemachus that he will be great and will succeed in his ventures because he is his father's son. From this moment on we begin to see a very sudden transformation or “Rebirth” in terms of Telemachus’ hero’s journey. He starts from a young defenseless boy, and ends his journey a man. Telemachus and Odysseus’ respective journeys have many similarities and differences ranging from their common enemy, to the lessons they learn, although the purpose of these journeys is clear; to find success in Ithaca.
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