In Homer's The Odyssey, what does Telemachus tell his guests to do?

1 Answer | Add Yours

shake99's profile pic

shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

In Homer's The Odyssey, Telemachus, son of the long-absent Odysseus, is watching his mother's suitors gradually eat away (sometimes literally) his family's wealth. Early in the story Telemachus addresses a meeting of Ithaca's leading men, hoping to engage their help in expelling the suitors. Some suitors are also there, and they rebuff him forcefully, claiming that his mother, Penelope, is the real problem, because she is leading the suitors on with unkept promises.

At this point, seeing that he does not having overwhelming support, Telemachus decides to give some ground to buy time.

“Eur´ymakhos, and noble suitors all, I am finished with appeals and argument. The gods know, and the Akhaians know, these things. But give me a fast ship and a crew of twenty 220 who will see me through a voyage, out and back. I’ll go to sandy Pylos, then to Sparta, for news of Father since he sailed from Troy— some traveller’s tale, perhaps, or rumored fame issued from Zeus himself into the world. If he’s alive, and beating his way home, I might hold out for another weary year; but if they tell me that he’s dead and gone, then I can come back to my own dear country and raise a mound for him, and burn his gear, 230 with all the funeral honors that befit him, and give my mother to another husband.”

It's interesting to note who holds the power here. Telemachus, only twenty-years-old, has the power to give his mother away against her wishes. We can surmise that this is something he certainly does not want to do. But public sentiment is growing against him, so he tries one last gambit, hoping to travel to nearby lands to find news that Odysseus is still alive. In essence, he is telling the suitors to give him about one more year, then one of them can have his mother.  

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,991 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question