The epic poem The Odyssey
A tale of triumph over extreme adversity, a tale of loves everlasting endurance, and also it is a tale of the bond between a father and his son. Based in the times of Ancient Greece, The Odyssey portrays the ten year journey of King Odysseus back to his kingdom and also back into the loving arms of his wife Queen Penelope and his son Prince Telemachus. This epic contains many underlying themes such as patience, courage, devotion, brains over brawns, and the strained relationship between a father and his son due to time lost. In this essay I will analyze the relationship between Odysseus, his son Telemachus, and the guiding intermediary Athena, while drawing a correlation between their parallel journeys during Odysseus’s ten year absents. I will also illustrate the correlation between the relationship of Odysseus and Telemachus with that of my own father and me.
A decade has come and gone since the fall of the great city of Troy, and King Odysseus has still not returned home from his campaign. Alongside the kingdom of Ithaca, Queen Penelope longingly but patiently awaits the triumphant return of their glorious king Odysseus. In his absents, Odysseus’s palace becomes flooded with various suitors attempting to take control of his kingdom by coercing his wife out of her marriage vows, and killing his son. Being the protagonist of this tale, Odysseus often has to overcome adversities in his long journey home. Although physically superior to many, Odysseus relies heavily on his intellect to traverse the various obstacles that block his return home. He is deeply favored in the eyes of the goddess Athena, who often comes to his aid in times of need. With Athena’s assistance, Odysseus’s voyage takes him to far off places such as the island of the Cyclops, Calypso’s island, and many more. Facing near death and temptations of infidelity, Odysseus never betrays the hope of one day reuniting with his wife and son. Through all this, Penelope has to overcome obstacles of her own, while staying steadfastly faithful to her husband; desperately, Telemachus longs to rid his father’s kingdom of the conniving suitors, but he lacks his father’s wit, strength, and courage.
Only a youngster when his father sets out to wage war in Troy, Telemachus has the undertaking of becoming a man without the parental guidance and nurturing of his father. Since he is next in line to gain the Ithaca’s throne, Telemachus becomes an inherent target of the suitors who seek to gain power in Odysseus’s absents. Even though his intentions to protect his mother and his father’s kingdom are heroic, Telemachus lacks the warrior spirit and experience that his father poses. While his mother is kept busy by the desperate suitors, Athena takes her place as the teacher of Telemachus. She teaches him the responsibilities of a young prince along with the pride and various characteristics that accompany the position. Due to Athena’s guidance, Telemachus readily becomes more assertive by deciding to stand-up to the pillagers of his father’s land and the pursuers of his mother’s bed. To no avail, Telemachus attempts are ignored by the suitors who continue to plot his very demise. Unable to prevent the take over of his fathers kingdom and unlike his mother, Prince Telemachus does not have the patience to sit around and wait for his father’s return, so he sets out to find him.
Being the goddess of wisdom and battle, Athena holds a special place in her heart for Odysseus due to his cunning and bravery. She often comes in the guise of various influential people who offer assistance to both Telemachus and Odysseus. Acting as an intermediary, Athena is credited for getting both father and son out of potentially fatal circumstances while guiding Odysseus back home and turning Telemachus into a man.
Although the epic poem The Odyssey is completely fictional, I can personally relate to Prince Telemachus and his longing for his father’s presence within his life. Even though the relationship between my father and I, and the story that surrounds it is not as extreme as that of The Odyssey, there are still a few similarities. As in infant growing up in Guyana, I was raised by my mother and aunt. My father was no where to be found, probably in America or Canada taking care of his own personal priorities instead of the ones back home. Growing up in a country where one U.S. dollar equaled one-hundred-and-ninety-six dollars of the national currency was no easy feat, but to do this without a father figure made it even harder. As I got slightly older, my mom also went to America to make a better living for us; she decided to leave me in the care of my aunt. Maybe because I was young at the time, I cannot remember a single time I’ve seen my father in Guyana, other than the few days he came to visit from his various adventures up North. As I got older, and my mom worked harder in the U.S., she finally sent for me to come live with her. From Guyana to New York, I still had to grow up without my father’s constant presence; it angered me to see my mother by herself.
As I came of age, and became more knowledgeable about the situation, I started to warm up to my father a little more. I still blamed him for not marrying my mother, but I also looked up to him as a role model. As I grew into a teenager, he began to come around more often. Like the great King Odysseus, my father wanted adventure, but got caught up in all the excitement and was blown of course. But also like King Odysseus, my father eventual found his way back home, not to my mother, but back in my life. I have to admit, I do cherish the long drawn out lectures that he put me through on the drives to his home in New Jersey, but I would never let him know this. His intelligence and charm has genetically rubbed of on me, and I’m truly thankful for that. Although my father isn’t perfect and he has wasted time on his own private Odyssey, like King Odysseus’s I know where his heart calls home.
In closing, analyzing the epic poem The Odyssey, has given me a new found appreciation of the few moments that I get to spend with my father. Even though The Odyssey is a fictional story, it symbolically touches on some parts of my life. Whether it is my mother, like Queen Penelope holding onto hope that her husband would soon come home, or Prince Telemachus, like myself, longing for the presence of a father within our lives. The Odyssey is a tale of patience, hope, and triumph over adversity; it is a tale that truly parallels my own.