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The Odyssey

by Homer
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What's the significance of the way Athena leaves Telemachus (lines 366-373) in The Odyssey by Homer?

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In Homer's The Odyssey , Athena arrives, in the form of Mentes, at Odysseus's home, and is able to talk to Telemachus in a way that encourages him to unburden his soul to her. Sensing his discouragement and despair, she talks to him about his father's noble attributes and...

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In Homer's The Odyssey, Athena arrives, in the form of Mentes, at Odysseus's home, and is able to talk to Telemachus in a way that encourages him to unburden his soul to her. Sensing his discouragement and despair, she talks to him about his father's noble attributes and heroic deeds.

Instead of scolding Telemachus for not dealing with the out-of-control suitors, she begins to talk to him about how his father would deal with them if he were to return. She further suggests that the young man should let his mother deal with the suitors while he goes on a voyage to meet Nestor and Menelaus.

The plan she suggests is designed to help Telemachus grow up and start to become the man who the son of a king, the son of Odysseus. Athena knows Odysseus is on his way home and will rid his house of the unwanted suitors, but she also knows this is a necessary growing-up journey for his son. 

Athena (in the form of Mentes/Mentor) leaves Telemachus in a spectacular fashion:

Off and away Athena the bright-eyed goddess flew

like a bird in soaring flight

but left his spirit filled with nerve and courage,

charged with his father’s memory more than ever now,

He felt his sense quicken, overwhelmed with wonder—

This was a god, he knew it well and made at once

for the suitors, a man like a god himself. (367-373)

By leaving this way, Athena reveals her status as a god, which fills Telemachus with "nerve and courage." Now he believes everything Athena has been telling him, and he is resolved and purposeful for the first time in his life. 

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