What is Telemachus's problem in The Odyssey?  I want to know what are the problems that Telemachus encounters while Odysseus is not around.

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tthusing's profile pic

tthusing | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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The largest problem that Telemachus faces in Odysseus's absence is trying to be the man of the house before he is seen to be a man.  The suitors are taking advantage of his mother's hospitality, the servants at the home, the food, and the land.  He wants to protect what is his family's and his.  He cannot, however, easily stand up to the suitors who are all seen by society as men.  They have proven themselves through wealth, bravery, and other means, whereas he is still seen as a child.

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favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Telemachus's most significant problem, besides the continued absence of his father, is that the suitors who are attempting to woo his mother, Penelope, are exploiting his hospitality and eating him out of house and home.  In ancient Greece, people believed that Zeus protected travelers and mandated that great hospitality be shown to anyone in need of it.  The suitors are really abusing this belief, making free to drink Odysseus's wine and slaughter his livestock for daily feasts.  This has gone on for years because they believe Odysseus to be dead, and they all want to marry his widow and take his great house and lands and goods.  In addition to simply wanting to know what happened to his father -- even if the news is that Odysseus has died -- Telemachus needs to find a way to rid his home of these suitors.  When Athena, in disguise, tells him that his father is living and sends him in search of news, the suitors actually plot to kill him upon his return. 

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