What does Telemachus learn about himself in Book 3 of Homer's Odyssey?  

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In the third book of Homer's Odyssey, we find Telemachus, son of Odysseus and Penelope, traveling to mainland Greece to discover news of his father. Because Telemachus is a young man, he is inexperienced in the ways of the world. He does, however, have the goddess Athene on his side.

When Telemachus arrives at Pylos and the palace of Nestor, he feels unsure about approaching Nestor. Athene encourages Telemachus to be confident and to question Nestor without hesitation. Telemachus, however, is hesitant:

I am inexperienced in the subtleties of speech: more than that, a young man is shy of questioning his elders. (A.S. Kline translation)

Athene, in turn, tells Telemachus that part of what he says will come from his own native intelligence, whereas the other part will come from divine inspiration.

Thus, inspired and encouraged by Athene, Telemachus asks Nestor about Odysseus. Interestingly, Nestor, in recalling how Odysseus was unsurpassed in his ability to provide excellent "counsel", observes that Telemachus reminds him of Odysseus:

...your speech is exactly his, and one would hardly expect a younger man to speak so.

So, it would appear that in Odyssey 3 Telemachus gains greater confidence in his ability to speak, which was a skill his father seems to have passed along to him. He also learns to trust in the gods to provide him with wisdom at the right time.


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