When Telemachus sets off in search of his father, he first sails to Pylus, home of Nestor, an old friend of his father. Nestor suggests that Telemachus head for Sparta to visit Menelaus. Nestor believes that Menelaus may have heard word of Odysseus's whereabouts during Menelaus's travels.
Odysseus, the king of the island of Ithaca, never returned from the Trojan War. He has been missing from the kingdom for twenty years. Although his wife Penelope holds on to the hope that he is still alive and will return, his son Telemachus is not so sure. Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom, who is very attached to Odysseus, comes to visit Telemachus in disguise as a Taphian chieftain named Mentes. She convinces Telemachus to set off in search of information about his father, despite his pessimism. That night, Athena changes her disguise (becoming Telemachus himself) gathers a crew and ship for Telemachus. He leaves without telling anyone.
His first destination is Pylus, on the Greek mainland. (Remember that Ithaca is an island.) He heads to the household of Nestor, the king of Pylos. He lives in Pylos with his wife Eurydice, his daughter Polycaste, and his remaining living sons: Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, Thrasymedes and Peisistratus. (The rest had died in the war.) Nestor had also fought in the Trojan War with Odysseus, but he and his remaining troops had returned home safely because they had not incurred the wrath of any gods. Nestor is often considered the oldest and wisest member of the Greek expedition to Troy. He often gives lengthy advice. He is also an extremely hospitable host, demonstrating the Greek virtue of xenos. Nestor welcomes Telemachus and Athena (who is now disguised as another old friend of Odysseus', Mentor). They are fed, entertained, and told about the fates of various Greeks after the Trojan War. Many of them had ill-fated homecomings. In particular, Nestor tells Telemachus about what happened to Agamemnon, the general of the Greeks at Troy. He was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus (who is also Agamemnon's cousin).
Nestor suggests that Telemachus go to visit Agamemnon's brother, Menelaus. Menelaus, the king of Sparta, was one of the instigators of the Trojan War after his wife Helen was taken by the Trojan prince Paris. Telemachus borrows a chariot for Nestor, and goes to Sparta with Nestor's son Peisistratus.