What does Athene reveal to Telemachus about the power of the gods in "The Odyssey"?Book 3

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Athena intimates to Telemachus that the power of the gods is far stronger than he might believe, but that even so, there are limitations to it.

Telemachus comments that he could never hope that Athena would take favor upon him as she did upon his father.  He says,

"It would be far too much to hope for.  I dare not let myself think of it.  Even though the gods themselves willed it no such good fortune could befall me".

Athena does not agree; she believes Telemachus underestimates the power of the gods and tells him,

"Heaven has a long arm if it is minded to save a man".

Athena subsequently clarifies this statement, noting that although the gods' power is far-reaching, it is not absolute, and is not mightier than death.  She amends,

"Still, death is certain,and when a man's hour is come, not even the gods can save him, no matter how fond they are of him" (Chapter 3).

Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Book III Athene, in the disguise of Mentor, urges Telemachus in his voyage to find his father in general and in particular to have confidence before Nestor.  She reveals to him that he has be blessed by the gods since his birth.  Through their power his natural abilities will be enhanced by their strength, much as the Christian belief of the Spirit giving the apostles words to speak.

In Book I she hinted that her main concern was not so much Odysseus' return home (that is up to the gods), but her concern is that Telemachus fulfill his own destiny.  Throughout the tale, and her involvment in Telemachus' journey, she serves as a source of encouragment that he has the power of the gods behind him.