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The Odyssey

by Homer

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How does Telemachus anger Athena?

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In Book III, Telemachus visits King Nestor and Nestor tells him about the ways in which Athena guarded his father, Odysseus. Nestor describes the wondrous nature of the relationship between Athena and Odysseus. They have a special bond because of their similar natures and Nestor tells Telemachus that he never saw a god show as much open affection for a human as did Pallas Athena for Odysseus. He reassures Telemachus, who is very worried about his father's safety, that he shouldn't worry—Odysseus should be safe because he has a goddess looking after his welfare. However, Telemachus despondently responds that it is too much to hope for and that a god couldn't protect his father even if the god willed it.

It is to this that Athena responds with some anger (III.230-2):

Telemachus, what a word has escaped the barrier of your teeth! Easily might a God who willed it bring a man safe home, even from afar.

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