In The Odyssey by Homer, how did Telemachus treat Mentes (Athena) when she arrived?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Homer's The Odyssey, Telemachus is an unhappy young man, and he has every right to be. His father, Odysseus, was king of the city, well respected and loved; however, Odysseus left when his son was young and has been gone for ten years. In that time, his mother, Penelope, has been beset with greedy and grasping suitors.

Telemachus is now a young man and he grew up without the benefit of a strong male role model in his life; in fact, all he sees around him are rude, boorish men who are consuming his inheritance a little more every day. Telemachus is not yet capable of ridding his house of the unwanted guests, but somewhere he has learned how to treat a true guest (as opposed to the usurpers). 

In Book 1, when Athena arrives in disguise as Mentes (Athena), she hovers at the door, unnoticed. When Telemachus notices her (him?), he feels terrible that a guest in his home has not been treated properly.

[T]he heart within him [is] scandalized that a guest should still be standing at the doors.

Telemachus quickly remedies the situation. He brings her a chair to sit in and a footstool to rest her feet. More importantly in this chaotic environment, he settles his guest in a safe and relatively quiet place so she will not

lose [her] appetite there among overbearing people.

And, of course, he feeds her. In short, Telemachus treats his guest politely and with great consideration, even when he does not know the true identity of his guest. 

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