A Homeric man can be defined as someone who journeys to different lands and is also skilled in battle and council. We have read the previous books in which Athena aids Telemakhos with his first step towards maturity. Book 18 offers us another view of his transformation from a boy to a man. Telemakhos conversations with the suitors and Penelope reveal his acknowledgement of his present situation and new responsibilities. The following will examine the ways in which Telemakhos actions and speech convey his growing into a man.When Athena enters the hall in Book 1 we are told that: Telemakhos was sitting there unhappy among the suitors, a boy, daydreaming(I.144-145) 1.
This paints an image of a boy, who is incapable of controlling the suitors disrespect of his oikos. Since he was raised by his mother and lacked the guidance of a father, Telemakhos was forced to watch the suitors consume his cattle and wine, he has never known this Homeric man-hood, yet. In Book 18 this is not the case. Telemakhos, having traveled to the homes of Nestor and Menalaus, befriending a comrade and meeting his father has been exposed to the proper way in which a house hold is run. There is always one man in charge and that man sees to it that certain practices are maintained, such as xenia. This guest host relationship has been ignored in Odysseus halls. The suitors (the guests) have taken it upon themselves to play host as well.
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We see Telemakhos attempt to regain control in the following line: You have my word as host; (18.76). 2 These strong words follow Telemakhos promise to give the beggar a one on one fight with no worries about a suitor jumping in. In this instance he is letting the suitors know he is no longer that day dreaming boy (1.
145) .3 As Odysseus accomplice, he has begun to command the suitors cooperation in carrying out his will. In his house the guests must obey his rules.
Telemakhos speaks to Penelope about how he was young and blind (18.286) .4 He goes on to say that he knows the meaning of the suitors actions, both good and bad (18.285ff). 5 The insight he has gained from visiting with functioning communities is evident in these lines. Before Telemakhos left his motherland all he knew was the conduct that the suitors surrounded him with. This being so, he still sensed, that it was in fact vulgar behavior. We are told in Book 1 that when Mentes comes to the hall Telemakhos has a table set up away from the suitors so they wouldnt spoil Mentes appetite (163ff).
6 As a boy Telemakhos lacked the resources to correct the mayhem in his house so he remained a prisoner in his own home. He now knows that his house lacked a man willing to defend his oikos, and has accepted the challenge to do so. The suitors reckless behavior is no longer going to be tolerated. No longer young and blind, experience and Odysseus presence, have given Telemakhos the guile to establish his status as prince and killer. He will follow in Odysseus heroic path to man-hood and help to bring bloody death to the suitors eyes. Eurynome, a housekeeper, also points out Telemakhos physical maturity.
She tells Penelope, already your son is of the age that you have most prayed to the gods to see him at, growing a beard (18.176-177). 7 Book 18 supplies the reader with hints of Telemakhos growing. His actions, speech, and looks are that of a Homeric man, on his way to gain the warrior status. Bibliography: