Telemachus – Good or Bad Brother?

Category: Odyssey
Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring quite often the hard way. Pamela Dugdale (Blog writer) Would Telemachus be a Good or Bad Brother? Imagine for a moment what would happen if Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, “The Odyssey” by Homer, had a younger brother or sister. How would his life change if he knew he has somebody to protect? Or if he knew he has somebody to pass the reins of power to? Probably he could be braver by knowing he is a live shield for somebody.

On the other hand what would happen with his temperament if he had an older brother or sister? There is a chance he would be mentally weaker. Maybe he would blame his sibling for all of his troubles. In order to find answers to these questions I will be presenting you bare facts from research studies made by different people in different centuries. I am also testing my own experience and ability to understand this precious bond between siblings and family members. I am an older brother to my two younger lovely sisters. While I was growing up I was still the only child, but I was like an older brother to my two dear cousins.

Family bond is a special thing. Whenever you speak to your close family member whom you haven’t seen for a while, you are most likely to take his or her words deep into your heart. That’s why silver-eyed Athena uses form of Iphthime, Penelope’s sister, in order to convince Penelope. And I will do my best to describe lonely prince Telemachus’ character and apply it to the whole different environment, which will show the peculiarity of growing up with siblings. Let’s imagine him sharing not only common moment of happiness and joy, but bitter sweet moments of grief and sadness.

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Depending on what kind of person his sibling would be, Telemachus could possibly show us some of his negative qualities. Because I think Telemachus would be too modest to be in charge of the family, I feel like his sibling would overpower him. But in some ways better than his father, loving and generous person Telemachus would become a good brother! There is an interesting article I read that I would like to share. It is called “siblings relationship” and for its most part it is summarizing article that gives a reader a broad view of siblings’ behavior in a family.

Here are some interesting moments: “The earliest research on relationships among siblings developed the common theme that brothers and sisters relate to each other mainly in a rivalrous way, competing for parental attention and status within the family unit. It is true that young siblings frequently fight with each other, putting a strain on the entire family; in fact, family psychologists report that squabbling among siblings is one of the top concerns of their clients”(sibling relationship). It is true that rivalry exist within any family with two and more kids.

But scientists, in their materialistic nature, will always be looking for sources and reasons why it happens. The old opinion is formulated by Alfred Adler in 1959. Adler says, “that the ‘dethronement’ of the eldest child by the birth of a sibling is a trauma that initiates all sibling rivalry” (sibling relationship). This opinion is pretty narrow. Newer facts that we get from“Some studies show that those siblings who exhibit the most rivalry are also the most likely to cooperate, be affectionate, share, and support each other”(sibling relationship).

Meaning it helps kids to develop good qualities such as ability to share, compassion, consideration and patience. My interpretation of it is as follows: if two brothers are fighting over a bicycle and an older brother always gets to ride it and he does it day after day. Until he gets to the point when he starts realizing that he makes his brother sad. This is a moment when older brother’s personality is starting to change. Maybe he will not change his behavior right away, because there is usually too much rivalry going on between brothers.

So it’s up to older brother to change first, but both of them will carry an understanding of the importance of sharing into adult life. In a similar way siblings learn how to solve relationship problems that may happen in their future. When interviewed one old couple said, “The Secret of Our 78-Year Marriage? Argue Every Day”(101-Year-Old Married Couple). I would like to come up with an only child in a family study in order to better understand Telemachus.

There is a stereotype that children have a better chance to grow into healthy adults if they have siblings. “The only child is popularly considered to be selfish, lonely, and maladjusted” (Falbo). This opinion was around for more than a hundred of years since the first studies in 1880’s. Nowadays the studies show only child in family usually performs better in school and is more likely to achieve expectations of their parents. Don’t get me wrong here; I think siblings gain better qualities in their childhood than only child.

When siblings grow up and become adults they tend to be emotionally strong and prepared for relationship issues that are inevitable. On the contrary, the only child is not emotionally prepared and will have expectations of everything and everyone to be near to perfect. The moment something goes wrong it is harder for the only child to accept it and work on that emotional problem. In an article called “Only child syndrome a myth” the author crashes the myth of the only child not having enough friends.

Nonetheless there are some interesting facts in the article. It says, “A study of kindergarteners, published in 2004 in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found that teachers rated sibling-less children lower on a variety of social skills, including self-control and interpersonal skills” (Sohn). For a moment imagine this happens in 2004 when there are a lot of pre-school classes for kids and day-care centers, but back on Ithaca years and years ago Telemachus probably had not many kids to play with.

Laura Padilla-Walker at Brigham Young University made an interesting research ”She recently found that having affectionate siblings helped kids, ages 10 to 14, feel less lonely and depressed and act more generously” (Sohn). It proves the already mentioned statement that siblings are learning how to be generous just by living together. Here is another important statement that she makes,” If parents only have one child, they will just have to work a little harder to give children those opportunities (Laura Padilla-Walker)” (Sohn).

I think these words would be true about Penelope working hard to establish good social skills in her son’s mind. I assume that all the credit gets Penelope for growing a fine son like Telemachus, but maybe it happened thanks to Eurycleia’s care and love. Eurycleia is on Odysseus’ nurse. Nonetheless, there is no clear answer in here. Interesting facts were published in North American Journal of Psychology. "Adult siblings can be essential resource for support, love and friendship (Van Volkom, Machiz and Reich). This many studies supporting my idea that having a sibling is so many ways beneficial. When siblings do not have a good relationship with their parents, they tend to overcompensate by having a supportive relationship with one another. Support and warmth is different between men and women (Van Volkom, Machiz and Reich). This makes me believe that Telemachus would be even closer with his sibling because they both would share the pain of growing up without father. "Living through traumatic life experiences together makes the sibling bond stronger" (Van Volkom, Machiz and Reich), that would be living in a house that is invaded by suitors in Telemachus' case.

The researchers found out about "the 'love and hate' pattern that frequently occurs in the sibling relationship" (Van Volkom, Machiz and Reich). But "positive outcomes can result from rivalry" such as "learning how to share and compromise" (Van Volkom, Machiz and Reich). I would like to summarize the whole article. The studies made are showing that "overall, most participants reported that rivalry peaked in either childhood or adolescense normal), and then declines in adulthood as siblings come back together as friends" (Van Volkom, Machiz and Reich).

I think this research is supporting my two previous researches and brings up new facts to think about. There was a moment in The Odyssey that simply shows why it is good to have a sibling in this life. Bright-eyed Athena decided to help Penelope by cheering her up and encouraging her. Athena creates a phantom of Penelope’s sister Iphthime, then phantom enters Penelope’s dream. So Penelope is dreaming, tired of endless crying, and suddenly her beautiful sister, the person she can trust and believe, is in her dream.

And so Athena inspires her, “Your son will still come home – it’s decreet…He travels with such an escort, one that other would pray to stand beside them. She has power-Pallas Athena”(4. 907-932). These words spelled from her sister’s lips inspired her like nothing else in the world. Athena reached deep into her heart, bringing love there and flaring a small light of hope into a huge fire of belief. Sometimes it’s good to have somebody to remind you about how beautiful life is and that you are not alone because you have your wonderful brother or sister. Now, imagine Telemachus growing up with his older brother.

Finally he has somebody to talk to, but I think Telemachus would be blaming his brother in the same in what he is blaming suitors and gods. Here is what he says to his mother, “why, mother/why deny our devoted bard the chance to entertain us any way the spirit stirs him on? Bards are not to blame – Zeus is to blame. He deals to each to each and every laborer on this earth whatever doom he pleases” (1. 395-403). Maybe he would accuse his older brother of not protecting their mother. It might also happen so he would proceed with Athena’s plan behind his brother’s back.

But otherwise, I think Telemachus would die for his brother, here what he says when he is protecting his father,” Ctesippus, you can thank your lucky stars you missed our guest – he ducked your blow, by god! Else I would have planted my sharp spear into your bowels…and I’d rather die, yes, better that by far then have to look on at your outrage day by day”(20. 340-354). Telemachus is brave, though he grew up without father or sibling, but I can only imagine how much more courage he would have gained having his older brother by his side. Maybe they would be plotting the same plan on how to get rid of suitors together.

Of course, it all depends on what kind of person his brother would be. Just a little different situation would occur if Telemachus suddenly happened to have a younger brother or sister. Definitely, he would not sit around with suitors, as he does day by day. He complains to Athena,”Soon - you wait – they’ll grind me down as well” (1. 293) He would have never said that if he would have clear goal to protect what is precious to him. It’s like a duty of older brother. He would understand he must act in order to save the future of his sibling.

I would like to add two more qualities that can be learned being a brother from my own personal experience. I am an older brother to my two sisters five and six years old. Beside that I’m an older cousin to my two other cousins. We were three boys growing up together. Being an older brother is learning how to be patient. I was growing up with only one sister. But even that one was enough. Looking after that small yo-yo takes nerves made of steel. From love the patience is born. And through patience a lot of things can be forgiven. Things like, turning off my computer while I’m playing my favored video game, which my sister enjoyed to do.

As for being an older cousin a different lesson is taught. I did hurt my younger cousins and I do pity it a lot by now. I wish I wouldn’t be so harsh older brother as I was. When you have power over others it takes time to understand how to not overuse it. After doing a research and looking into Telemachus’ character I can surely say he would be a great brother. He would team up with his older sibling against suitors. Be it a brother, they would make a plan on how to slaughter suitors. If a sister, they would look for some help outside or maybe in some tricky way would have poisoned them.

If a sibling would be a strong person, Telemachus would double his or her qualities making them twice stronger and wiser. If a sibling would be weak person, Telemachus would be ready to take over the responsibilities. In a last situation the sibling having a reckless life would have caused Telemachus into even greater depression. Having a younger sibling would bring great benefits to Telemachus. He would gain qualities like supportiveness, patience and self-confidence. Because he would be in care of somebody he would become more reliable. He would be more responsible for his words and he would support his words with actions.

If he had an older sister she would give him a good emotional support. Overall, Telemachus would become a man that is ready to accept and fight off his problems in a manly manner. In general having a sibling is most likely to have a positive effect on one’s personality. This belief is so strong in our society that many couples decide to give birth to a second child. Nowadays studies prove that sibling relationship is not that easy. Usually there is a lot of rivalry going on between siblings in adolescence, but it mostly results in strengthening the bond between siblings.

Other studies are trying to prove that only child is happier and performs better in school, but my opinion is growing up with sibling is a lesson that is priceless in a school called “life”. I value the sibling’s experience 5 times higher than only child having a happy childhood. So might some of us that grew up as only child have to think to themselves: “Do I have to catch up with those people who grew up with a sibling”? Works Cited Falbo, Tony “The One-Child Family in the United States: Research Issues and Results” Studies in Family Planning Vol. 13, No. 6/7 (Jun. - Jul. , 1982), pp. 12-215 Web. 11 of April 2012 Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Classics, 1996. Print. Senior, Jennifer “101-Year-Old Married Couple” www. nymag. com (2009): n. page Web. 4 of April 2012 “Sibling Relationship” , N. A. www. faqs. com (2012): n. page Web. 4 of April 2012 Sohn, Emilie “Only Child Syndrome a Myth” news. discovery. com (2010): n. page Web. 4 of April 2012 Van Volkom, Michel , Machiz, Carly and Reich, Ashley E. “Sibling Relationship in College years” North American Journal of Psychology; 2011, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p35-50, 16p, 1 Chart, Web. 11 of April 2012

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