Kleos in a Minor Key: The Homeric Education of a Little Prince

  Petropoulos, J. C. B. 2011. Kleos in a Minor Key: The Homeric Education of a Little Prince. Hellenic Studies Series 45. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Petropoulos.Kleos_in_a_Minor_Key.2011.

3. Kleos and Social Identity

‘ὦ πάτερ, ἦ τοι σεῖο μέγα κλέος αἰὲν ἄκουον,
χεῖράς τ’ αἰχμητὴν ἔμεναι καὶ ἐπίφρονα βουλήν.’

Odyssey 16.241–242

“Father, truly I used to hear of your great reputation (kleos),
that you were warlike with your hands and wise in counsel.”

Ἐνὶ οἴκῳ ‘At Home’

In Odyssey 1.345–359, after Mentes’ departure the Little Prince makes the first public demonstration of his maturity or, as others would say, of his psychological change. (This is also the first time the prince pronounces the name Ὀδυσσεύς ‘Odysseus’, at verse 354.) Here he dumbfounds his mother with his intervention in favor of Phemios Terpiades, which we examined in the previous chapter. As others have also noticed, the youth’s antagonistic tone can be explained by reference to his post-adolescent psychology and needs no further comment. [1] What may merit brief attention is the dramatic setting of the brusque outburst in Book 1.

First, Telemachos speaks more generally on behalf of the members of the screened-off sphere of the δαίς ‘meal’. In epic, mortal women never participate in the δαίς proper, but may only appear at its conclusion: they neither dine nor drink with the men, but are allowed to take part in post-prandial conversation with them as Helen (Odyssey 4.121ff., 216ff.) and Arete (Odyssey 8.136ff.) do. [2] In Book 1 the stylized scene of Queen Penelope’s diva-like arrival (Odyssey 1.328–336) gives us some notion of the degree to which her son will perceive her as {57|58} an intruder in the men’s quarters even at this advanced stage of after-dinner entertainment. Her face covered with λιπαρὰ κρήδεμνα ‘a veil shiny with oil’ (Odyssey 1.334), she has just come down the stairs from the upper floor escorted by two protective maidservants at either side. Details of dress and living space suggest that she is trespassing in the symbolic world of men (also compare Helen’s intrusion at Odyssey 4.121–124). The Queen’s ensuing instructions to Phemios are about as conventional as Andromache’s ‘command’ to Hektor to station troops at a vulnerable location in the city walls. Heath (2005, especially 69–71) points out that Andromache’s proposal, concerning as it does a matter of public, indeed military, strategy, is altogether unorthodox; it is this particular intervention, Heath notes, that draws Hektor’s uncharacteristically sharp reaction, which is nearly identical to Telemachos’ rude declaration of independence. First, the Trojan hero’s words:

‘ἀλλ’ εἰς οἶκον ἰοῦσα τὰ σ’ αὐτῆς ἔργα κόμιζε,
ἱστόν τ’ ἠλακάτην τε, καὶ ἀμφιπόλοισι κέλευε
ἔργον ἐποίχεσθαι· πόλεμος δ’ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει
πᾶσι, μάλιστα δ’ ἐμοί, τοὶ Ἰλίῳ ἐγγεγάασιν.’

Iliad 6.490–493

“Return to your quarters and attend to your own tasks
with the loom and the shuttle and instruct the maidservants
to go about their work [sc. at the shuttle]; as for war, it will concern men,
all [sc. men] who live in Ilios, and especially me.”

Telemachos’ response as a whole (Odyssey 1.345–359)—which the poet himself extols as μῦθον πεπνυμένον ‘prudent words, speech’ (Odyssey 1.361)—is remarkable for at least two reasons. [
3] First, the youth, as was argued in the last chapter, alludes (at Odyssey 1.346–352) to a particular social function of the epic ἀοιδός ‘singer’ that has been little explored. Second, in the remainder of his answer the post-adolescent prince deploys μῦθος in order to define himself as a man, except that this move is still premature according to Homer. [4] We may consider Telemachos’ oft-quoted closing words to his mother:

“Return to your quarters and attend to your own tasks
with the loom and the shuttle and instruct the maidservants
to go about their work [sc. at the shuttle]; as for speech [represented by song in the men’s quarters], it will concern men,
all [sc. men], and especially me, since mine is the authority in this house.”

In keeping with social convention, the young prince erects a partition between the respective spheres of the sexes: yet, pace Heath and others, [
6] women too deliver μῦθοι in the specialized sense of ‘speech acts’ (which Heath also takes into account in his discussion); thus female μῦθος possesses authority so long as it is spoken in the appropriate sphere, which however falls ultimately ὑπ’ ἀνδράσιν ‘under the jurisdiction of men’ (compare Odyssey 7.68, 335ff., 8.433ff.). [7] Through his own speech act (see especially Odyssey 1.358) Telemachos loudly and publicly ordains his right more generally to perform speech acts ἐνὶ οἴκῳ ‘at home, in his household’. That is, verses 356–359 are themselves a μῦθος ‘speech act’ that engenders (and validates) future μῦθοι ‘speech acts’. At the same time, though, this μῦθος—his very first in this scene—reveals him to be defining (or at least proclaiming) his gender. [8] His statement sums up the multiple ways whereby the notional labels ‘male’ and ‘female’ are produced and perpetuated in a society. According to the philosopher Judith Butler, [9] the act of ‘girling’ or ‘boying’ that establishes the gender of a child begins the moment when society (for instance, the neonatal specialist or the parents) exclaim, “It’s a boy/girl.” Defined at first through such constatives, gender is in turn stabilized by speech. Telemachos repeats a constative of the kind that identified him in the past as male when, in effect, he asserts in verses 358–359, “I am a man” (compare the striking ‘μῦθος δ’ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει / πᾶσι, μάλιστα δ’ ἐμοί’ [“as for speech, it will concern men, / all men, and especially me”]). Simultaneously he delivers in this passage a speech act that, as noted, is a μῦθος characteristic of a man who performs speech acts ἐνὶ οἴκῳ ‘in his house’. [10] {59|60}

Καὶ ἐν δήμῳ ‘In Public’

‘Τηλέμαχ’, ἦ μάλα δή σε διδάσκουσιν θεοὶ αὐτοὶ
ὑψαγόρην τ’ ἔμεναι καὶ θαρσαλέως ἀγορεύειν.’

Odyssey 1.384–385

“Telemachos, really and truly only the gods are teaching you
to be a lofty speaker and [therefore] to hold forth boldly.”

“For this reason he [sc. Peleus] sent me to teach you all these things,
namely, to be to be a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.”

The Odyssey, as well, attests the same mentality, which evaluates a hero holistically by the degree to which he successfully combines ἔργα ‘deeds’ and μῦθοι ‘words, speech acts’. In his ironical reaction to Telemachos’ abortive ‘patriotic’ call to action, [
17] the suitor Antinoos patently insinuates that he reckons the youth—who has just broken into tears—to be incompetent not only in the use of words, but also in the execution of deeds:

Odyssey 2.85

“Telemachos, lofty speaker, unrestrainable in your vehemence, what a word is this that you have said!”

Later the same suitor repeats the phraseology above and then effectively glosses it, thereby confirming this two-fold deficiency:

‘Τηλέμαχ’ ὑψαγόρη, μένος ἄσχετε, μή τί τοι ἄλλο
ἐν στήθεσσι κακὸν μελέτω ἔργον τε ἔπος τε’

Odyssey 2.303–304

“Telemachos, lofty speaker, unrestrainable in your vehemence, let no other
evil deed or word be of concern to you in your heart” {61|62}

Ἔπος here, connoting ‘authoritative speech’ (compare μῦθος at Odyssey 1.359), [
19] belongs, socially speaking, in the realm of men. We noted in the preceding section that the prince has already claimed the right to speak with authority and, by corollary, to perform deeds. When he reproaches Penelope for daring to dictate Phemios’ repertory, Telemachos vouchsafes that a woman’s ideological and physical space is her οἶκος, i.e. ‘her room(s)’ (Odyssey 1.356), and that her ἔργον ‘work’ par excellence is weaving. [20] Only men—a rubric under which he most emphatically and contrastively places himself as lord of the manor (Odyssey 1.359: ‘μάλιστα δ’ ἐμοί’ [“and especially me”])—may translate speech into action at both home and, by clear implication, ἐν δήμῳ ‘in public’.

In verses 358–359 Telemachos is guilty of overstatement, for women too, as remarked, are capable of exercising authority via speech acts, albeit ἐνὶ οἴκῳ ‘at home, in their quarters’, and necessarily ὑπ’ ἀνδράσιν ‘under the jurisdiction of men’. [21] From a historical and cross-cultural point of view, the strictly hierarchical segregation of the sexes has been substantially based on a tendentious distinction between public and private space. Given that the latter has always been systematically denigrated, it is perhaps no surprise that physical separation has conduced to the “social repression” of women. [22] At the same time spatial discrimination has determined most influentially (and arguably continues to determine even today) the social construction of gender. [23] The Odyssey may be a case in point. Here the symbolic taxonomy that relegates women to the private realm promotes, though only indirectly, [24] an ideology of ‘male superiority’, and this hegemony is reflected in the way in which certain characters construe gender. Thus (to revert once more to the famous passage in Book 1), Telemachos, in audibly counterpoising his gender to his mother’s, predictably invokes symbolic topography. As we noted, the junior ἄναξ ‘lord’ here repeats almost verbatim Hektor’s words to his wife in Iliad 6.490–493. But this is no mere cross-allusion to the Iliad; in my view, it is rather a pointed employment of a common stock of ideological clichés: see also Jones 1991:130 ad Odyssey 1.358–359. Coming from the lips of a growing {62|63} son, the command to his mother sounds quite different from Hektor’s order to his wife. Telemachos is protesting his maleness with nearly the same fervor as his father when he rattles his (phalloid) saber at Kirke in Book 10 (10.321ff., 333–335, especially 340–341). Despite the differing contexts, Telemachos and Hektor are entitled to their common reactions by virtue, ultimately, of the ‘circular argument’, which upholds the segregation of the sexes and in turn reinforces ad infinitum the manifold discrimination against women through segregation.

Speech as the Highest Form of Action

‘τόσα εἶπες, ὅσ’ ἂν πεπνυμένος ἀνὴρ
εἴποι καὶ ῥέξειε . . .’

Odyssey 4.204–205

“you spoke as many things [i.e. words] as a prudent man
might say and do . . . ” {63|64}

Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:206 ad loc. comment that the phrase καὶ ῥέξειε ‘and might do’ is redundant, having arisen from attraction, as it were, to the heroic ideal of well-roundedness. [
29] Indeed, Menelaos’ catachresis may suggest that a warrior, ideally, says what he is capable of accomplishing: that is, words and actions are perfectly coextensive in Homeric mentality, and a speech may therefore even be equated with a hero’s finest hour, or aristeia. [30] Epic poetry, I might add, acknowledges that ἔργον ‘action’ has an intellectual/mental origin and continuum, a fact which makes an ἔργον a reflection and representation of thought and of the μῦθος ‘speech, speech act’ affiliated with it: consider Odyssey 2.236, Mentor’s comment about the suitors: ‘ἔρδειν ἔργα βίαια κακορραφίῃσι νόοιο’ (“to commit violent deeds through the evil scheming of their minds”). Understandably, then, as Schofield concludes (1986:15), “much of what is glorious about them [sc. the heroes] is crystallised in the guile or arrogance or nobility of their talk.” Diomedes’ impassioned reply to Agamemnon’s defeatist proposal (Iliad 9.31–49) is, by analogy, “as much a feat of prowess as one of his exploits on the battlefield,” since “it wins him an immediate award of honour or glory in the applause of the host.” [31] Moreover, Odysseus’ “masterly oratorical performance” in Iliad 2, at a most critical turning point in the plot, may be accounted “the culmination of . . . his aristeia.” [32] To be sure, the heroic code of πολεμίζειν ‘fighting’ is not as simple as we may think. The lengthy deliberative speeches reveal the code to be rich in ambiguity and multilayered: in the exercise of εὐβουλία ‘rational discussion’ heroes may consciously problematize issues, and especially the code’s very values, developing rational analysis alongside the exploitation of emotions. [33] The ideal hero, in Schofield’s convincing Aristotelian reading of the Iliad, is εὔβουλος ‘good at deliberation’ above all—the philosopher’s φρόνιμος ‘prudent’ man incarnate. [34] Here Schofield’s analysis intersects J. Heath’s comprehensive discussion of Telemachos’ incremental relationship {64|65} with the adjective πεπνυμένος ‘prudent’. [35] As this scholar demonstrates, the lofty epithet, which is associated especially intimately with Telemachos (a total of 46 times in the Odyssey), generally refers to someone who uses the effective, authoritative speech of an experienced man. As he comes of age, the Ithakan princeling comes to “earn” or “grow into” his epithet, as Heath puts it, in a gradual process that can be gauged by the change in his manner of speech (whether sincere or dissembling or silent), and its repercussions for others. [36] As I see it, πεπνυμένος ‘prudent’, as applied to the prince from the beginning of the poem onwards, signals—proleptically and teleologically—the manly continuum of word and deed or of silence and deferred action for which his ὁδός ‘journey’ will equip him to an enormous degree. The youth’s role model in this journey, Athena assures him, will or should be his father, whose image has been given a new lease of life in his mind (Odyssey 1.320–322; see Chapter 1) and who, in the goddess’s words, was “so successful a man . . . both in action and in speech” (Odyssey 2.272; Dawe’s translation, italics mine).

Πεπνυμένα βάζειν ‘to speak prudent things, talk sensibly’ (compare Iliad 9.58, Odyssey 4.206, etc.) and εὐβουλία thus represent equivalent or nearly identical types of mature male behavior. We have seen that in particular, εὐβουλία, “excellence in counsel or sound judgement” (Schofield 1986:6), can be the supreme form of action, or ἔργον. If the most highly prized quality for a commander such as Agamemnon is εὐβουλία, [37] then we may be justified in taking the cue from Schofield’s cogent philosophizing interpretation and considering one of the main positions argued in Book 10 of the Nikomachea: given that under Aristotle’s scheme the highest activity is ἐνέργεια ‘moral action’ and that the highest form of energeia is θεωρία ‘thought, contemplation’, then education and the organization of the state should be geared towards teaching citizens to cultivate thought ‘καλοῦ ἕνεκα’, that is, “for the sake of moral beauty.” [38] By direct analogy, under the heroic (i.e. honor-driven) code—let us call it the ‘epic {65|66} system’—education (which is clearly understood e.g. in Iliad 9.442–443 [39] and, as will be seen, in Odyssey 2.314) and generally the structure of Homeric society (or societies) should encourage ultimately the cultivation of εὐβουλία/πεπνυμένα βάζειν (‘excellence in deliberation’/‘sensible speaking’) mainly for the sake of honor. To a secondary yet still meaningful degree, that is, insofar as it may seek to explore the conflict of heroic and non-heroic values, Homeric ‘education’ would ideally cultivate εὐβουλία in the direction of cooperation and solidarity among male φίλοι ‘friends’ on the war front. [40] This educational ideal (which I believe had a basis in reality) is in fact borne out by an important aspect of εὐβουλία/πεπνυμένα βάζειν often overlooked by scholars: μῦθος ‘authoritative speech’, through which εὐβουλία is actualized, is as a rule meant to be converted to collective action. [41]

Historically speaking, Homeric society and, in general, other societies across time set store by eloquence particularly of the deliberative kind, which they elide with what is later termed εὐβουλία ‘excellence in deliberation’. To paraphrase Schofield: good speaking and good judgment are often not sharply distinguished across cultures and poetic traditions. [42] Naturally, then, a large part of Telemachos’ overall education—for Athena has already started teaching him from Book 1 (compare Antinoos’ unwitting comment at Odyssey 1.384–385)—revolves around the exercise in μῦθοι ‘words, speech acts’ and more particularly, εὐβουλία. Book 2 gives considerable space to the prince’s exposure to both activities; the book is nearly a case study in a prince’s faltering attempts at deliberative oratory. In general, Athena functions in the first two books as a patient instructor in ‘good speaking and good judgment’ (see again Odyssey 1.384–385, 2.314–315), coaching her charge privately through her protreptic, itself a well-tempered, often eloquent mix of rational thinking and resort to emotion. Such a combination, as Schofield brings out, is the quintessence of εὐβουλία, [43] which by definition will have a ‘bottom line’ [44] —τὸ πρακτέον ‘things to be done’. [45] Debuting in the Odyssey as {66|67} a deliberative speaker (Odyssey 1.45–62, etc.), the goddess subsequently exemplifies the relevant skills and methods of an epic εὔβουλος ‘proficient deliberator, counselor’ in her covert exchanges with Telemachos, and he takes note.

Odysseus, needless to say, is a seasoned εὔβουλος (see, for example, Odyssey 3.125–129), and in Odyssey 8.169–177 he gives a programmatic statement in effect about εὐβουλία with which it is fitting to conclude this section. [46] The passage confirms that, in the hierarchy of the poem’s values, rhetorical and generally intellectual prowess outranks physical beauty and strength (compare 8.177: ‘νόον δ’ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι’ [“but you are worthless/uneducated in your mind”]). The rhetorical skill meant here is manifestly tied to the deliberative genre (see especially verse 172 below):

‘ἄλλος μὲν γὰρ εἶδος ἀκιδνότερος πέλει ἀνήρ,
ἀλλὰ θεὸς μορφὴν ἔπεσι στέφει, οἱ δέ τ’ ἐς αὐτὸν
τερπόμενοι λεύσσουσιν· ὁ δ’ ἀσφαλέως ἀγορεύει
αἰδοῖ μειλιχίῃ, μετὰ δὲ πρέπει ἀγρομένοισιν,
ἐρχόμενον δ’ ἀνὰ ἄστυ θεὸν ὣς εἰσορόωσιν.
ἄλλος δ’ αὖ εἶδος μὲν ἀλίγκιος ἀθανάτοισιν,
ἀλλ’ οὔ οἱ χάρις ἀμφιπεριστέφεται ἐπέεσσιν,
ὡς καὶ σοὶ εἶδος μὲν ἀριπρεπές, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
οὐδὲ θεὸς τεύξειε, νόον δ’ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι.’

Odyssey 8. 169–177

“One man is weaker in looks,
but a god puts a crown of beauty on his words, and people
gaze at him in pleasure; and he speaks articulately
with conciliatory sensitivity, and he stands out among those who have assembled,
and they look up to him, as if he were a god, when he goes through the city.
Then again another man is similar to the immortals in looks
but charm is not put as a crown round his words:
so also you have outstanding looks, and not any differently [i.e. better]
not even a god could fashion your looks—but you are worthless [or uneducated?] in your mind.”

Odysseus is talking to the Phaiakian Euryalos, a handsome but callow champion wrestler; the mature king articulates an ideal that is tailored to the needs {67|68} of adult, logocentric society. [
47] It is instructive that his own son Telemachos, for all the godlike glamour he at first exudes in the assembly in Ithaka, falls miserably short of this very ideal.

Telemachos’ First Public Performance

In Odyssey 1.272–274, Athena instructs the prince to denounce the suitors the next day in the assembly and thereby frighten them to leave the palace for good. At Odyssey 1.368–380, especially 373–374, he informs them of his plan, minutes after proclaiming his exclusive right to utter μῦθοι ‘words’ at home (1.358–359). Μῦθος, we noted, generally means ‘a speech act’ endowed with authority, and no μῦθος can be more authoritative than a command. Telemachos then quotes the agenda of the next day’s assembly: ‘ἵν’ ὑμῖν μῦθον ἀπηλεγέως ἀποείπω,/ἐξιέναι μεγάρων’ (“so that I may forthrightly declare my command [literally, word], / namely get out of the palace,” Odyssey 1.373–374). [52] The unusual session of the people’s assembly breaks up unusually fast and with no results (Odyssey 2.256ff.), despite its highly promising start. [53] This, as de Jong comments, is the prince’s first public performance. [54] We have seen that in Book 1 Telemachos, far from being a symposiarch, as it were, is forced into a corner. Yet now, thanks to his initiative, Ithaka stumbles out of the constitutional anomaly that has brought it close to the savage anomie of Kyklops’ isle: this may be the implication of the analepsis—at the beginning of the assembly scene—referring to Aigyptios’ son Antiphos, the last of Odysseus’ crew to be devoured by ἄγριος Κύκλωψ ‘savage Kyklops’ (Odyssey 2.19–20). [55] The phrase ἀγορὴν πολύφημον ‘the assembly-place {69|70} where much is talked about’, moreover, which the poet later uses in a description in the same scene (Odyssey 2.150), may be an ironical allusion to Kyklops’ complete ignorance of public matters and public speech. [56]

Under these exceedingly eccentric circumstances Telemachos convokes the ἀγορή ‘assembly’ with godlike aplomb (Odyssey 2.5–7). With Athena’s help he arrives radiant in the glow of θεσπεσίην . . . χάριν ‘divine . . . charm’ (Odyssey 2.12), drawing admiration from the crowd and exuding regal dignitas and τιμή ‘honor’ (Odyssey 2.10–14, compare 2.33). [57] His aura moves the elders (γέροντες) to cede to him the προεδρία ‘place in the front’, hence, literally, ‘precedence’:

βῆ ῥ’ ἴμεν εἰς ἀγορήν, παλάμῃ δ’ ἔχε χάλκεον ἔγχος,
οὐκ οἶος, ἅμα τῷ γε δύω κύνες ἀργοὶ ἕποντο.
θεσπεσίην δ’ ἄρα τῷ γε χάριν κατέχευεν Ἀθήνη.
τὸν δ’ ἄρα πάντες λαοὶ ἐπερχόμενον θηεῦντο·
ἕζετο δ’ ἐν πατρὸς θώκῳ, εἶξαν δὲ γέροντες.

Odyssey 2.10–14

He set out for the assembly-place, and in his hand he grasped a bronze spear,
[he was] not alone, two shining dogs followed along with him.
And Athena poured divine charm upon him.
All the people gazed in wonder at him as he approached;
he sat in his father’s seat, and the elders made room [sc. for him].

This stylized snapshot depicts Odysseus’ heir-apparent striding forth with self-confidence (compare again verse 5) as warlord and king, accompanied almost heraldically with two hunting hounds, obvious status symbols. [
58] The image as a whole correlates with the Archaic ideology surrounding the {70|71} charismatic king. [59] Yet his speech, which will suddenly be interrupted at verse 79, will prove a disappointing performance both dramatically and stylistically.

His speech begins as a private answer to Aigyptios (Odyssey 2.40–41):

‘ὦ γέρον, οὐχ ἑκὰς οὗτος ἀνήρ, τάχα δ’ εἴσεαι αὐτός,
ὃς λαὸν ἤγειρα· μάλιστα δέ μ’ ἄλγος ἱκάνει.’
“Old man, this man [about whom you ask] is not far away, and soon you will yourself know
who gathered together—I did—the people, because distress has come upon me in particular.”

The unspecified ἀνήρ who is at hand (compare Odyssey 2.40: οὗτος ‘this man’) is announced from the start, but before Telemachos identifies him he inserts parenthetical information (Odyssey 2.40: ‘τάχα δ’ εἴσεαι αὐτός’ [“soon you will yourself know”]) that whets the old man’s curiosity still more. Suddenly, to Aigyptios’ surprise, the verb (which has no personal pronoun) at the end of the relative clause in the next verse reveals the person who convened the assembly: ‘ὃς λαὸν ἢγειρα’ (“who gathered together—I did—the people”). Telemachos thus answers the elder’s question, ‘τὶς ὧδ’ ἤγειρε;’ (“Who has brought about this assembly like this?” Odyssey 2.28). Like an embryonic Odysseus the youth defers the revelation of his identity; but the comparison to his father ends here.

Telemachos’ Χρεῖος

The Little Prince’s speech subsequently develops into a public oration (Odyssey 2.43–79) even as it is still being directed to Aigyptios. This transformation takes place between verses 42–43, as is evident from the transition to the plural personal pronoun ὑμῖν ‘to you’ (Odyssey 2.43). This heteroclite fusion of private address and public oration is arguably dictated by a {72|73} clever rhetorical strategy—one that is also highly convenient—on the part of Telemachos. Wishing to forestall any public (political) consequences that may arise from the denunciation he plans to deliver, he pretends a priori (Odyssey 2.42–45) that the death of his father—the king and quasi-father of the people, as he will put it (Odyssey 2.46–47), [70] is, paradoxically, a purely family matter (Odyssey 2.44–45: ‘οὔτε τι δήμιον . . . / ἀλλ’ ἐμὸν αὐτοῦ χρεῖος’ [“not something of public interest . . ./ but my own business”]). [71] Under Ithaka’s patriarchal system the common denominator of ‘father’ encourages this intertwining of private and public in Telemachos’ speech. As he explains, the news of the fleet’s arrival (Odyssey 2.42: ‘οὔτε τιν’ ἀγγελίην στρατοῦ ἔκλυον ἐρχομένοιο’ [“I have not heard any message about the army coming”]) would be an altogether different matter: it would be of public interest. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:132 ad Odyssey 2.44 cite the Odyssey’s general tendency to minimize the political consequences stemming from the fate of Odysseus’ family. To pursue this comment further: Telemachos’ avowedly apolitical stance here may be part of his larger rhetorical strategy, which I wish to illustrate. (A related strategy, aiming at the arousal of pity, likewise impels him to represent his father’s death as a foregone conclusion and to treat this as a deeply personal loss; see Odyssey 2.46–47.) [72] Another factor that encourages him to ‘privatize’ the consequences of his father’s disappearance is plausibly psychological: his own plight (verging, we might say, on trauma), along with his relative immaturity, leads him to foreground his loss not only in his private conversations but just as persistently in public. It is all too tempting for him psychologically, as well as politically expedient, to play down the objective, communal fallout from his father’s absence and to overvalue, somewhat solipsistically, its subjective consequences. As he tells Nestor in Odyssey 3.82–83, ‘πρῆξις δ’ ἥδ’ ἰδίη, οὐ δήμιος, ἣν άγορεύω. / πατρὸς ἐμοῦ κλέος εὐρὺ μετέρχομαι . . .’ (“the business at hand is private, not public, which I am speaking of: / I come in quest of news [kleos] of my father . . . ”). [73]

Odysseus’ Χρεῖος

ἦ τοι Ὀδυσσεὺς
ἦλθε μετὰ χρεῖος, τό ῥά οἱ πᾶς δῆμος ὄφελλε·
μῆλα γὰρ ἐξ Ἰθάκης Μεσσήνιοι ἄνδρες ἄειραν
νηυσὶ πολυκλήϊσι τριηκόσι’ ἠδὲ νομῆας.
τῶν ἕνεκ’ ἐξεσίην πολλὴν ὁδὸν ἦλθεν Ὀδυσσεὺς
παιδνὸς ἐών· πρὸ γὰρ ἧκε πατὴρ ἄλλοι τε γέροντες.

Odyssey 21.16–21

had come after [i.e. to recover] a debt which the entire community owed to him.
For Messenian men had lifted from Ithaka sheep
and three hundred herdsmen in ships with many benches for oarsmen.
On this account Odysseus had gone a long way on a mission,
a ‘boy’; for his father and other elders besides had sent him forth. {74|75}

The poet describes objectively the ostensibly conventional social function of the young Odysseus’ mission (see Odyssey 21.21: παιδνὸς ἐών ‘being a boy’). [
77] The youth’s father and other prominent Ithakans assign him a dangerous expedition. Acting in the name of the dêmos (see 21.18), Odysseus sets off to recover a straightforwardly economic χρεῖος from another dêmos (21.16–17). His mission abroad (21.20: ἐξεσίην ‘mission’ < ἐξίημι ‘I send forth’) is conceived as an expressly political and hence public action. In contrast, Telemachos’ ἐξεσίη ‘mission’ is presented in a different light from Book 1 onwards. Because Ithaka lacks a legitimate government, Athena must stand in for the rulers and delegate to the youth the secret plan of the ἐξεσίη. Telemachos in his turn is forced to undertake the mission in secret from the suitors (and his mother), despite the fact that he formally informs them of his plan earlier in the assembly. It is obvious that the prince—very conveniently—conceives his ὁδὸς ‘journey’ as strictly private. Under more normal circumstances he would have been able to be more candid about the public issues raised by the crisis in his οἶκος ‘house’.

Homer aptly encapsulates the difference between Telemachos and Odysseus as he is featured in the historiola by a paradoxical convergence in phraseology: young Odysseus ἦλθε μετὰ χρεῖος, τό ῥά οἱ πᾶς δῆμος ὄφελλε (‘had come [literally, came] after a debt which the entire community owed him’, Odyssey 21.17); Telemachos, on the other side, as Athena herself foresees, will travel ‘νόστον πευσόμενον πατρὸς φίλου, ἤν που ἀκούσῃ’ “to seek information about his dear father’s return, if perhaps he may hear of it” (Odyssey 1.94), and as the prince himself declares, ‘πατρὸς ἐμοῦ κλέος εὐρὺ μετέρχομαι, ἤν που ἀκούσω . . . ’ (“I come in quest of news of my father that has spread from afar, on the chance I may hear . . . ,” Odyssey 3.83). [78] The χρεῖος ‘debt’ pursued by the former pertains to a public and economic matter that is entrusted to him mainly by his father; the latter’s χρεῖος concerns the quest for news about his absent father. Both expeditions, even so, are similar in that a) they entail military action or at least considerable danger, [79] and b) their underlying rationale is intended ultimately to mark the participants’ coming of age. We have seen that Athena signals this educational aspect in her ‘table of contents speech’ in the beginning of Book 1: [80] {75|76}

“After that I shall send him off to Sparta and sandy Pylos
to seek information about his dear father’s return, if perhaps he may hear of it,
and so that a fine reputation (kleos) among human beings may accrue to him.”

Telemachos’ Οἶκος

To return to Odyssey 2.46ff., in Telemachos’ δημηγορία ‘public speech’ he dates his father’s certain death to the past twenty years (2.46). He next moves on to the calamitous here and now, decrying in overly emotional language the even more serious (compare μεῖζον: literally, ‘greater’) aspect of his personal tragedy (2.48–49), namely, the utter waste of his father’s estate by the suitors. [82] The ancient scholia, in common with some modern scholars who apparently focus on the word βίοτον ‘property, livelihood’ (2.49), suppose—with embarrassment—that the young man is thoughtlessly, “crassly materialistic.” [83] Yet Telemachos is hardly insensitive; for all his hype, he is simply registering a social truth that he also bewails in Book 1. [84] Archaic and Classical sources indicate that the οἶκος (see Odyssey 2.48: οἶκον ἅπαντα ‘the entire oikos’) is conceived here as a descent group headed by a κύριος ‘head of a family’ and comprising his land assets among other things. [85] Unsurprisingly, then, Telemachos resorts to the only relevant social and economic concept available to Archaic ideology (per contra the concept of, say, a ‘wedded couple’ did not exist). [86] Given that the union of a κύριος ‘head of a family’ and his assets constituted his οἶκος (oikos), Telemachos forthrightly invokes the two respects in which his or more precisely his father’s οἶκος has supposedly {76|77} been destroyed. Moreover, given that patriarchy’s “ground rule number one” [87] required the son to biologically perpetuate his father and his genos, how can Telemachos do so while his οἶκος is shrinking dangerously fast?

Patriarchy and Kleos in a Minor Key

Before treating the remainder of the δημηγορία ‘public speech’ it may be useful to roughly outline the structure of inner conflict in which the poet depicts Telemachos’ character development, particularly in response to his dilemma at home. The quasi-legal question—insoluble in my view—of the ἐρημία, or ‘heirless state’, [88] threatening Odysseus’ οἶκος and the related matter of Penelope’s remarriage cannot concern the present discussion. [89] What is relevant is Homer’s contrastive treatment of the Telemachy’s vacillating protagonist. In one view, as we will see in the next chapter, Homeric social convention has already authorized the youth to succeed his father as κύριος (in effect, ‘lord of the manor’), provided that he first arranges for his mother’s remarriage. [90] From a symmetrically opposite viewpoint, however, this son is unqualified to be declared κύριος: from this practical vantage-point, as Telemachos clearly demonstrates in his two main speeches in Book 2, he is unable to replace his father even temporarily (assuming he is alive), far less to succeed him in his own right (assuming he is dead). Under the patriarchal system of the epic as analyzed by Wöhrle, a son must at all costs prove successful—in respect of ἔπος ‘word’ and ἔγχος ‘spearmanship, war’, I might add (compare Nestor’s two sons at Odyssey 4.211)—but he never is permitted to outshine his father so long as he lives. [91] Telemachos is therefore obliged indefinitely to remain a Nebenfigur overshadowed by Odysseus. ‘Mentor’ justifies the general state of paternal domination, a state of affairs that exists, notably, at the expense of young men’s kleos. As ‘Mentor’ puts it in his exhortation in Odyssey 2.270–277:

Prince Telemachos, cannot, as a Nebenfigur, be worthy of his father until he embarks on his mission abroad and gains kleos.

Telemachos’ wavering behavior throughout the Telemachy and even beyond may be put down to the contradictions and tensions inherent in epic patriarchy: the son is a man, but not more so than his father; for, indeed, there is no man equal to his father, a fact Athena intimates at Odyssey 2.276 and which Telemachos bitterly underscores in the same book. On the other hand, as we just noted, the father exercises power over his son until he (the son) succeeds him—and in his turn exercises over his son the type of authority that holds in check this son’s kleos and creates the same tensions between the two. [93] The contradictory nature of patriarchal ideology is reflected by certain of Telemachos’ comments and is borne out by his parents’ admission that their son now has the right κήδεσθαι τοῦ οἴκου ‘to look after the house’, see Odyssey 18.338–339, 19.85–88, 160–161. These conflicting positions may be summed up in this manner: a) ‘I am a man equal to my father and lord of my manor (see Odyssey 1.358–359, 19.160–161) and therefore I may even kill the suitors when I return from my trip to Pylos and Sparta’ (see Odyssey 2.314–318, compare 1.289–297); vs. b) ‘There is no man <nor will there ever be a man> like Odysseus who might drive out the suitors’ (see especially Odyssey 2.58ff., 16.71–72, 88–89). [94] These contradictions are not imposed by rhetorical {78|79} requirements; see especially Odyssey 16.71–72, 88–89 above. [95] Rather, they delineate the structure of the prince’s entrapment in the decaying state of Ithaka. This patriarchal system, as we have seen, on the one hand anoints him (at times objectively, at others opportunistically) his father’s successor, and on the other hand, it disempowers him, denying him the external but also the deeper possibilities for acting as a hero and a successor. For the moment, he is incapable even of being a Nebenfigur. As for the kleos he is to gain through his voyage, Athena is most explicit: it will be minor in comparison to his father’s.

‘ἐγὼ δὲ ἄλογος εἰμὶ.’

‘ἐγὼ ἰσχνόφωνος εἰμὶ.’

Moses to Yahweh, Exodus 6:12, 30

‘οὐ γὰρ ἔπ’ ἀνὴρ,
οἷος Ὀδυσσεὺς ἔσκεν, ἀρὴν ἀπὸ οἴκου ἀμῦναι.
ἡμεῖς δ’ οὔ νύ τι τοῖοι ἀμυνέμεν· ἦ καὶ ἔπειτα
λευγαλέοι τ’ ἐσόμεσθα καὶ οὐ δεδαηκότες ἀλκήν.
ἦ τ’ ἂν ἀμυναίμην, εἴ μοι δύναμίς γε παρείη.
oὐ γὰρ ἔτ’ ἀνσχετὰ ἔργα τετεύχαται, οὐδ’ ἔτι καλῶς
οἶκος ἐμὸς διόλωλε. νεμεσσήθητε καὶ αὐτοί,
ἄλλους τ’ αἰδέσθητε περικτίονας ἀνθρώπους,
οἳ περιναιετάουσι· θεῶν δ’ ὑποδείσατε μῆνιν,
μή τι μεταστρέψωσιν ἀγασσάμενοι κακὰ ἔργα.
λίσσομαι ἠμὲν Ζηνὸς Ὀλυμπίου ἠδὲ Θέμιστος,
ἥ τ’ ἀνδρῶν ἀγορὰς ἠμὲν λύει ἠδὲ καθίζει·
σχέσθε, φίλοι, καί μ’ οἶον ἐάσατε πένθεϊ λυγρῷ
τείρεσθ’, εἰ μή πού τι πατὴρ ἐμὸς ἐσθλὸςὈδυσσεὺς
δυσμενέων κάκ’ ἔρεξεν ἐϋκνήμιδας Ἀχαιούς·
τῶν μ’ ἀποτινύμενοι κακὰ ῥέζετε δυσμενέοντες,
τούτους ὀτρύνοντες. ἐμοὶ δέ κε κέρδιον εἴη
ὑμέας ἐσθέμεναι κειμήλιά τε πρόβασίν τε. {79|80}
εἴ χ’ ὑμεῖς γε φάγοιτε, τάχ’ ἄν ποτε καὶ τίσις εἴη.
τόφρα γὰρ ἂν κατὰ ἄστυ ποτιπτυσσοίμεθα μύθῳ
χρήματ’ ἀπαιτίζοντες, ἕως κ’ ἀπὸ πάντα δοθείη·
νῦν δέ μοι ἀπρήκτους ὀδύνας ἐμβάλλετε θυμῷ.’

Odyssey 2.58–79

“for there is no man at hand
such as Odysseus was to ward off disaster from this house.
Whereas we now are not such as to fight: indeed in this case [i.e. if we fight]
we shall be pathetic because untutored in combat.
Certainly, I would defend myself if [only] I had the strength.
For deeds that are tolerable no more have been brought about, and in a manner beyond decency [i.e. disgracefully]
has my house been ruined. So feel indignant yourselves,
and feel shame before other neighboring men
because they dwell in this region; tremble in fear before the wrath of the gods,
lest they should change their attitude in their shock at these evil deeds.
I beseech you by Zeus Olympian and Themis
who dismisses and brings assemblies to their seats :
Hold off, friends! And leave me alone in [my] woeful pain
to be worn away—unless by any chance my noble father Odysseus
in his ill will harmed the well-grieved Achaians.
In return for which you are making me pay and harming me in your ill will,
by encouraging these [suitors]. For me it would be better
that you consumed my valuables and my flocks and herds.
If you at least were to consume these, there would be restitution at some time before long.
In this case we would sue throughout the city with words,
demanding [our] property until everything was given back.
As it turns out, you are causing me pointless pains in my heart.”

He admits that a) as we have already noted, the security of his οἶκος ‘house, household’ hinges on a single man but “such a man as Odysseus does not exist” (Odyssey 2.58–59), and b) “we do not have”—the plural includes himself as well as his mother, mentioned earlier, in verses 2.50ff.—“the physical strength” (Odyssey 2.60; compare 2.62, where he refers to himself), “nor have we learnt {80|81} to fight” (2.61; compare again the plural) [
98] “so as to drive out the suitors. Yet, if we attempted any such thing we would seem λευγαλέοι ‘pathetic’” (2.61), an adjective that suggests contempt in the sight both of oneself and others. [99] Even so, the conclusion arising out of verses 58–61 is expressed in the singular by the verb ἀμύνειν ‘defend, ward off’, here repeated for a third time in four verses: in effect, “I want to resist the suitors but I cannot do this . . . ” (Odyssey 2.62). The powerlessness to which the οἶκος (oikos) is reduced is collective, but in verse 62 it slips back into being individual: perhaps this ‘inconsistency’ realistically reflects Telemachos’ confusion and anger (on which see below). In any case it is plain that the two qualities that Telemachos cites as indispensable to himself were considered in the Archaic period to be the typical attributes, alongside physical beauty, of an ephebe, particularly in the visual arts, namely, δύναμις ‘physical strength’ (Odyssey 2.62) and the capacity for violence (compare 2.61: ἀλκήν ‘fighting, combat’). [100]

‘οἶκος ἐμὸς διόλωλε· νεμεσσήθητε καὶ αὐτοί’ (“my house has been ruined; so feel indignant yourselves,” Odyssey 2.64): he now continues, for about half a verse, to speak openly in the first person as the—admittedly impuissant—lord of the manor. Unable to muster the requisite external power and strength, he resorts to deploying evaluative language: αἰδώς ‘shame’, νέμεσις ‘indignation’ (usually leading to punishment), and the ‘fear of the gods’, three quintessentially social emotions that later oratory also mobilized. [101] Though he has arrogated a highly political matter, as we noticed, he contradicts this tack by rebuking the entirety of the δῆμος ‘people, community’, his very audience, for joint responsibility, if not culpability on account of their inaction (a topic that Mentor will handle more thoughtfully). The three consecutive imperatives, ‘νεμεσσήθητε’ (that is, “feel the indignation which the public outcry arouses and thus moves you to intervene”, Odyssey 2.64), ‘αἰδέσθητε’ (“feel shame”, Odyssey 2.65), ‘ὑποδείσατε’ (“tremble in fear”, Odyssey 2.66) are encapsulated by two further imperatives in verse 2.70, ‘σχέσθε’ “hold off” and ‘ἐάσατε’ “leave, let”, which spell out the desired consequence of νέμεσις, αἰδώς, and the fear of the gods: if the Ithakans feel these emotions they will carry out the somewhat diffuse central object of the speech, namely, ‘stop [sc. encouraging the suitors]’ and ‘leave me alone in my extreme sadness!’

The culminating two commands are a non sequitur—and unfair. For one thing, the speaker, referring again to his πένθος ‘suffering’, addresses himself {81|82} catachrestically to the δῆμος ‘people’, but this time he demands that they desist from intervening (thus contradicting the connotations of νεμεσσήθητε ‘feel indignant’, Odyssey 2.64); instead, the people must leave him alone. Second, there is a world of a difference, of which, however, Telemachos seems unaware, between inertia or apathy and active abetment (compare Odyssey 2.74: ‘τούτους ὀτρύνοντες’ “by encouraging these [sc. suitors]”). [102] This blind spot is indicative of the speaker’s immaturity. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:135 ad Odyssey 2.70ff. put it well: “Instead of appealing for help against the suitors, Telemachos asks the Ithacans to stop encouraging them; his equation of apathy or acquiescence with positive complicity is surely to be seen as an emotional distortion betraying his youth and inexperience.” φίλοι ‘friends’ (Odyssey 2.70) slightly softens the insulting blanket indictment. But there follows a compound conditional sentence of nearly four verses (2.71–74) that ironically and rather thoughtlessly plays on the concept of the ἐσθλός, or ‘socially responsible’, ruler. [103] These verses are a rhetorical reductio ad absurdum of the hypothetical counterargument that “your encouragement of the suitors is justified because Odysseus, my ἐσθλὸς πατὴρ ‘noble father’ <and metaphorically your ἐσθλὸς πατήρ, instead of benefiting you > harmed you in the past.” Here Telemachos confuses once more public with private, silence with criminal intent. Collectively the δῆμος ‘community’ harms him (Odyssey 2.73: ‘κακὰ ῥέζετε’ “you are harming”), apparently out of revenge for some injury Odysseus committed against them (‘κακ’ ἔρεξεν’ “he harmed”). [104] Yet how can ὁ ἐσθλὸς πατήρ have harmed his collective children? Although by definition this is quite out of the question, Telemachos has left the stinging accusation, summed up in the phrase ‘τούτους ὀτρύνοντες’ (“by encouraging these [sc. suitors],” Odyssey 2.74), dangling in the air.

As in verses 2.44ff. and in the melodramatic appeal ‘καὶ μ’ οἶον ἐάσατε πένθεϊ λυγρῷ / τείρεσθ’ (“And leave me alone in woeful pain / to be worn away,” Odyssey 2.70–71), so also here, in the closing of his δημηγορία ‘public speech’ (Odyssey 2.79), the prince regresses to subjective πένθος ‘suffering’, having launched an attack on an unspecified culprit (Odyssey 2.44–45), then on specific culprits (i.e. the suitors) and finally co-culprits (i.e. the δῆμος ‘people’, Odyssey 2.73–74, and especially 79).

The Scepter as a Tennis Racket

His μένος ‘vehemence’ is unstoppable, as Antinoos comments with condescension:

‘Τηλέμαχ’ ὑψαγόρη, μένος ἄσχετε . . .’

Odyssey 2.85

‘Telemachos, lofty speaker, unrestrainable in your vehemence . . .’ {83|84}

Besides Antinoos, the suitor Eurymachos will mention in passing the prince’s anger when he berates Mentor (Odyssey 2.185: ‘οὐδέ κε Τηλέμαχον κεχολωμένον ὧδ’ ἀνιείης’ [“and you would not be unleashing angry Telemachos in this way”]). Indeed, Telemachos’ speech itself is a mixture of pain (see Odyssey 2.41, 70, 79) and anger. The latter emotion pervades the conditional sentence in verse 62: ‘ἦ τ’ ἂν ἀμυναίμην, εἴ μοι δύναμίς γε παρείη’ (“Certainly, I would defend myself if I had the strength”). Achilles uses closely similar syntax to express his anger at his utter inability to ward off Apollo: ‘ἦ σ’ ἂν τεισαίμην, εἴ μοι δύναμίς γε παρείη’ (“Certainly, I would avenge myself on you if I had the strength,” Iliad 22.20; compare Iliad 22.10: ‘μενεαίνεις’ “you rage”). Telemachos’ μένος ‘determination, courage’ proves to be as unstoppable as it is ineffectual. We have seen that Athena announces in the beginning of Book 1 that she intends to inspire the prince with μένος in order to move him to denounce the suitors before the ἀγορή ‘assembly’ (1.88–91); in the event, the young would-be ruler fails to put this fundamental emotion to political use. [
110] Mentor, in contrast, draws a subtle distinction between inaction and complicity and avoids formulating head-on accusations and appeals. Odysseus’ contemporary exploits the silence of the majority of Ithakans, turning this fact into an indirect call to action against the suitors, outnumbered by the δῆμος; see especially verses 1.239–241 (and de Jong 2001:57 ad loc.).

The poet will continue in the Telemachy to remind us of the youth’s incompetence, or rather his relative immaturity, not merely in respect of ἔπεα ‘words’ and εὐβουλία ‘good counsel’ but also with regard to ἔργα ‘deeds’. The deed Telemachos will be called upon to carry out—but which he confesses he cannot perform (see verses 2.60–62)—is τίσις ‘requital, revenge’; in verse 2.144 the princeling in fact wishes ‘αἴ κέ ποθι Ζεὺς δῷσι παλίντιτα ἔργα γενέσθαι’ (“in case Zeus may perhaps grant that deeds of requital take place”). We have seen that revenge was the ἔργον ‘deed, act’ that marked the coming of age of ‘far-famed’ Orestes (Odyssey 1.30: ‘τόν ῥ’ Ἀγαμεμνονίδης τηλεκτυτὸς ἔκταν’ Ὀρέστης’ [“whom (sc. Aigisthos) the far-famed son of Agamemnon Orestes killed”]; 1.40–41: ‘ἐκ γὰρ Ὀρέσταο τίσις ἔσσεται Ἀτρεΐδαο, / ὁππότ’ ἂν ἡβήσῃ . . .’ [“For from Orestes requital for the son of Atreus will come / when he comes of age . . . ”]), the prodigious post-adolescent invoked as an example in the exhortations of Athena, Nestor, and Menelaos to Telemachos. Τίσις ‘requital’ represents an extreme form of heroic efficiency, which may more generally be conveyed by the verb τελεῖν ‘to accomplish, fulfill’ and {84|85} the related τελευτᾶν ‘to perform, conclude’. Consider the poet’s pointed use of these verbs in two passages in Book 2. First, here is the suitor Leiokritos’ prediction, spiked with malicious humor:

‘ἀλλ’, ὀΐω, καὶ δηθὰ καθήμενος ἀγγελιάων
πεύσεται εἰν Ἰθάκῃ, τελέει δ’ ὁδὸν οὔ ποτε ταύτην.’

Odyssey 2.255–256

“But even so, I suppose, sitting long [at home] he will hear news (angeliai)
in Ithaka, and never complete this journey.”

Second, after the disbanding of the assembly, Mentor exhorts the prince using both verbs. His words reverberate like a riposte to the suitor’s sarcasm: [
111] see verses 2.272, 273, 275, 280.

In Book 4 Penelope characterizes Telemachos as νήπιος, an adjective connoting immaturity at its extreme:

‘νήπιος, οὔτε πόνων εὖ εἰδὼς οὔτ’ ἀγοράων’

“childish, well-versed neither in difficulties [hardship] nor in assemblies [public deliberation]”

In her ‘gloss’ of the epithet the Queen divides it into two notional strands, giving it the nuance of ‘incompetent in respect of deeds and words alike’. By clear implication, νηπιότης ‘childishness’ disqualifies the prince of kleos as distilled into its traditional ingredients. Indeed, in Book 2 Telemachos has proven νήπιος ‘childish’ in this twin sense. He lacks, for one thing, the skill of εὐβουλία ‘dispensing counsel based on rational discussion’, as we have seen. For another, as he admits in public himself, he lacks the ἀλκὴ ‘fighting skills or spirit’ to oust the suitors (compare πόνων ‘difficulties, hardship’ in Penelope’s quote above). Disarmed of the possibility of action, he is far from carrying out τίσις ‘revenge’ like Orestes, who, on coming of age (ἡβήσσαντος), used βίη ‘physical strength’ so effectively. Having failed in public speech, combining and confusing emotion and tactics, the young man rather resembles savage (ἄγριος) Kyklops (compare Odyssey 1.70–71, 198–199, 2.19–20). When praying alone by the sea (Odyssey 2.262–266, compare 260: ἐπάνευθε κιὼν ἐπὶ θῖνα θαλάσσης ‘after going aside to the seashore’)—shortly after the dissolution of the assembly—he uses a {85|86} highly unusual formulation, which omits the prayer’s petition. Thus he strays from standard adult conduct even in private prayer. [
113] One might say that Telemachos occupies an intermediate position between civilized/prudent Orestes and uncivilized Kyklops.

“in the Odyssey . . . he [sc. Telemachos] talks more than any other person except Odysseus.”

Jones 1991:113 ad Odyssey 1.114–117

Certain scholars have remarked that even beyond the Telemachy the hero remains excitable in his conversations, but with the difference that he no longer loses control. In general Telemachos expresses ever-increasing self-confidence and adult authority, especially after reuniting with his father. Jones, who treats with much sensitivity the matter of the prince’s gradual maturation, traces the process of the hero’s development in his use of speech, and chiefly in his exchanges with Penelope and the suitors from Book 18 (verses 227–232) on. [114] In Book 20 (verses 309–310) his comment to the suitor Ktesippos forthrightly attests his graduation from the ranks of νήπιοι ‘the childish’ (‘ἤδη γὰρ νοέω καὶ οἶδα ἕκαστα, / ἐσθλά τε καὶ τὰ χέρεια· πάρος δ’ ἔτι νήπιος ἦα’ [“because now I perceive and know each and every thing, / good and bad alike; whereas before I was still childish”]). [115] He states that he is willing to die fighting the intruders (see especially Odyssey 20.315–319), a willingness reminiscent of a Hektor figure, ready ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης ‘to defend his country’ if not on the battlefield, then at least in his own home. In this speech, in which he also denounces the suitors, he betrays again his ‘psycho-linguistic’ development. Stanford 1958:355 ad Odyssey 20.311 notes that the youth’s emotional state results in a distortion of syntax in his speech: instead of a phrase standing in apposition to the pronoun τάδε ‘these things’ (Odyssey 20.311), Telemachos employs a genitive absolute (Odyssey 20:312–313): {86|87}

‘ἀλλ’ ἔμπης τάδε μὲν καὶ τέτλαμεν εἰσορόωντες,
μήλων σφαζομένων οἴνοιό τε πινομένοιο
καὶ σίτου’

Odyssey 20.311–313

“Yet we have put up with seeing these things
our cattle and sheep being slaughtered and our wine being drunk
and food consumed.”

Though his speech is temporarily deformed, the young man does not collapse emotionally, as when he criticized the suitors in his first δημηγορία ‘public speech’ in Book 2. His reaction now impresses Agelaos, who, reflecting the view of the other usurpers, at once complies with the prince’s threat (Odyssey 20.320–337). Albeit briefly, the aura of auctoritas intimidates the supercilious suitors. [

Also indicative of the Telemachos’ verbal and other maturation is the manner in which, across the distance of seventeen books, he responds anew to the suitors’ suggestion that he arrange for Penelope’s remarriage as soon as possible. Jones 2002:192 ad Odyssey 20.338–344 (see also 191 ad Odyssey 20.304–319) remarks that, whereas his response in Odyssey 2.129–145 is a veritable torrent of diffuse, πολύμυθα ‘wordy’ arguments, in Odyssey 20.338–344 his reaction is brief, well-targeted and suffused with “a self-confident authority.” This maturity, reflected in Telemachos’ more ‘economical’ (as the scholia would say) mode of self-expression, has been brought about by an educational event which Eurymachos registers with a sinking feeling as early as Odyssey 16.346–347: [117]

‘ὦ φίλοι, ἦ μέγα ἔργον ὑπερφιάλως τετέλεσται
Τηλεμάχῳ ὁδὸς ἥδε· φάμεν δέ οἱ οὐ τελέεσθαι.’
“Friends, truly a great deed has been completed arrogantly
by Telemachos, this journey of his—and yet we said it would not be achieved by him.”

The ὁδός ‘journey, voyage’, as we have seen, is by itself a μέγα ἔργον ‘great deed’; as a paideutic process it teaches Telemachos about the constituents—ἔπος ‘word’ and ἔργον ‘deed’—of social identity, or kleos. [
118] When Odysseus asks Athena why {87|88} she ever imposed the voyage on his son rather than informing him from the outset of his situation, she spells out her motive in Odyssey 13.422–423: [119]

‘αὐτή μιν πόμπευον, ἵνα κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἄροιτο
κεῖσ’ ἐλθών . . .’
“I myself was his guide, so that he might win a noble reputation (kleos)
by going there . . .”

What does the goddess mean? Thanks to the ὁδός, the prince is meant to develop, to some degree at least, the compound identity known schematically in epic tradition as kleos. The rich gifts Telemachos receives from Menelaos and Helen are external tokens of this kleos. [
120] Like Odysseus in Book 13, Penelope in Book 17 construes her son’s ὁδός as an intelligence-gathering operation; hence she questions him about the ἀκουή ‘news, hearsay’ and ὀπωπή ‘sight[ings]’ of his father (Odyssey 17.41–44,104–106). Athena has unique insight into the educational dimension of Telemachos’ trip, as will be argued in detail in Chapter 5.

In the books that follow on the Telemachy proper we noticed that Telemachos becomes better versed in words and deeds. If in Books 18 and 20 his manner of speech sounds more mature, by Book 21 his words to his mother have an even more impressive ring:

‘ἀλλ’ εἰς οἶκον ἰοῦσα τὰ σ’ αὐτῆς ἔργα κόμιζε,
ἱστόν τ’ ἠλακάτην τε, καὶ ἀμφιπόλοισι κέλευε
ἔργον ἐποίχεσθαι· τόξον δ’ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει
πᾶσι, μάλιστα δ’ ἐμοί . . .’

Odyssey 21.350–353

“Return to your quarters and attend to your own tasks
with the loom and the shuttle and instruct the maidservants
to go about their work [sc. at the shuttle]; as for the bow [representing military matters], it will concern men,
all [sc. men], and especially me . . . ” {88|89}

This is perhaps the pinnacle of the prince’s self-expression as an adult. [
121] (The speech is, to be precise, a signal specimen of εὐβουλία ‘cogent advice’.) Homer is here deliberately echoing the much-discussed passage in Odyssey 1.356–359: [122]

‘ἀλλ’ οἶκον ἰοῦσα τὰ σ’ αὐτῆς ἔργα κόμιζε
ἱστόν τ’ ἠλακάτην τε, καὶ ἀμφιπόλοισι κέλευε
ἔργον ἐποίχεσθαι· μῦθος δ’ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει
πᾶσι, μάλιστ’ ἐμοί . . . ’

Odyssey 1.356–359

“Return to your quarters and attend to your own tasks
with the loom and the shuttle and instruct the maidservants
to go about their work [sc. at the shuttle]; as for speech, it will concern men,
all [sc. men], and especially me . . . ”

Whereas at Odyssey 1.358 Telemachos arrogates μῦθος ‘speech’, in the later passage he invests himself with the aura of godlike omnipotence when he lays claim to the bow, an eloquent heroic emblem. [
123] He designedly states that his ‘education’ has progressed from μῦθος to ἔργον. It is worthwhile to remark that after the Telemachy—on account of the journey he has embarked on in Book 2—the young man has undergone a ‘change of gender’. Perhaps this is the juncture at which to examine the ὁδός as an ‘initiatory’, educational process. {89|}


[ back ] 1. See also Heath 2005: “his first rough stab at growing up” (101). See below on Odyssey 21.350–353, a remodeling of this passage.

[ back ] 2. See e.g. Heath 2005:71–72 with his n100.

[ back ] 3. παιδὸς γὰρ μῦθον πεπνυμένον ἔνθετο θυμῷ: the poet-bard takes the side of Telemachos, who has just sided with Phemios. For the adjective πεπνυμένος, see below.

[ back ] 4. Consider the poet’s telling comment (Odyssey 1.361) that Telemachos spoke very wisely (albeit) as a παῖς, a term which, as Graziosi and Haubold 2003:72 note, always refers to “(male and female) children as opposed to adults.”

[ back ] 5. Athetized by Aristarchοs, whom Dawe 1993:73–74 ad loc. faithfully follows. Possibly μῦθος here means ‘poetry’, a category of authoritative speech presupposing performance. See below.

[ back ] 6. E.g. Heath 2005:747. Graziosi and Haubold 2003:72 rightly remark: “no matter what Telemachos might claim, μῦθος is not exclusively or unproblematically the prerogative of adult men.”

[ back ] 7. For ‘speech acts’ see also below. Helen’s prophetic speech (Odyssey 15.125–129) is an authoritative muthos. In general, see Easterling 1991:145–151 on the lament.

[ back ] 8. For exaggeration in verse 358, see below.

[ back ] 9. Butler 1997.

[ back ] 10. Why ‘man’? See n4 above.

[ back ] 11. Schofield 1986, esp. 15 with n20 (“rash young men”).

[ back ] 12. See e.g. Clarke 2004:80–81 on μένος and ἀγηνορίη (= in effect, ‘excessive and antisocial manhood’), both of which impel heroes to violent acts. For the definitionally pejorative implications of ἀγηνορίη, see Graziosi and Haubold 2003:60–76.

[ back ] 13. Cf. Odyssey 1.338: ‘ἔργ’ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν, τά τε κλείουσιν ἀοιδοί.’ ἔργ’ ἀνδρῶν (without an adjective and construed with a genitive of agent) is the object of ἀείδειν and by extension μιμνήσκεσθαι and is the formal equivalent of the κλέα ἀνδρῶν, which Achilles sings (Iliad 1.189; see Chapter 1 n125); cf. Odyssey 10.199: ‘μνησαμένοις ἔργων Λαιστρυγόνος Ἀντιφάταο.’ However, in the Odyssey a song—and concomitantly kleos—have a wider range of reference than πολεμήϊα ἔργα (Iliad 2.338, etc.), as we saw in Chapter 1; hence ἔργα in Odyssey 1.338 probably means ‘wondrous deeds, events, or matters’, as in Odyssey 11.374: ‘σὺ δέ μοι λέγε θέσκελα ἔργα’ [sc. Odysseus’ encounters with the shades of his companions in Hades]. Ἔργον, incidentally, and in particular the plural ἔργα may generally refer to non-martial contexts in Archaic poetry, e.g. Odyssey 2.63, 117, 252 (ἔργα = ‘farm plot’), etc. (see further LfgrE ii.676–679, esp. 1e, 3–4, s.v. ἔργον), but also subsequently, see e.g. the funerary inscription, Clairmont, no. 73 (p148, Athens, c. 350 BC): the deceased, aged 22, is praised for his ἔργματα (ἔργ[μασιν], verse 3), which include σωφροσύνη and φιλία (verse 4) as well as his athletic accomplishments (verse 5).

[ back ] 14. An Aristotelian distinction: e.g. Nikomachean Ethics 1905b15 on βίος.

[ back ] 15. Schofield 1986, esp. 24 (“rational discussion”). To Schofield’s testimonia, add Iliad 7.288–289 (Ajax combines ‘μέγεθός τε βίην τε/καὶ πινυτήν’); see also n47 below.

[ back ] 16. On this passage, see Hainsworth 1993:121 and Griffin 1995:127–128. For ἔργα, see n13 above. For ἔπεα/ἔπη in the specialized sense of style and tone of speech, see Martin 1989, esp. 7, 21, 34–35. In the Mycenaean formula Fέργον τε Fέπος τε the polar dyad of ‘deed’ and ‘word’ is a discernible primeval concept. This composite touchstone for heroic conduct carries over into epic poetry even as a disjunction, e.g. Odyssey 3.99 (of Odysseus), 4.163 (see below), Hesiod Works and Days 710; for straightforward formulations, see e.g. Odyssey 2.272 (with Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:148 ad loc.), 15.375 (with Heubeck and Hoekstra 1993:256 ad loc.), etc., Hesiod Works and Days 710 (with West 1978:331 ad loc.); further Chapter 4 n6. Additional testimonia from Archaic poetry: LfgrE ii.674–675, 1a, s.v. ἔργον. (In Thucydides it is rather the incongruity between word and action that is stressed; hence the contrast λόγῳ/ἔργῳ = ‘pretending’/‘in reality’: Hornblower 1991:213, 296, 306, etc.)

[ back ] 17. In practical terms the address achieves nothing inasmuch as the dêmos’ only reaction is silent pity (Odyssey 2.81–83) and equally silent inertia, as (the real) Mentor asserts (Odyssey 2.239–241). The youth however scores a moral victory, as de Jong 2001:46 remarks. See further below.

[ back ] 18. Cf. also the ironical force of the otherwise positive term ἀγορητής in the Iliad and Odyssey: Heath 2005:89n27.

[ back ] 19. See Martin 1989, esp. 29–30: ἔπος is “the unmarked member,” μῦθος “the marked member of the pair.” See n5 above.

[ back ] 20. γυναικήια ἔργα (e.g. Herodotos 4.114), as used of aristocratic women, never refers to housecleaning but to the fabrication of cloth, on which see e.g. chapters 1–2 of Ferrari 2002.

[ back ] 21. Telemachos ‘flexes his muscles before his mother’: this explains his absolute and exaggerated tone. Heath 2005:76n109 describes verses 358–359 as “emotionally driven overstatement, ironic but . . . true.” (I do not detect irony here.) See also n25 below: the prince’s speech act is in fact a performance that demonstrates his (presumed) ethos.

[ back ] 22. Rosaldo 1974, esp. 17–30, a Marxist view now widely accepted.

[ back ] 23. Chodorow 1974, esp. 51 (a sociological-psychoanalytical approach).

[ back ] 24. See Blundell 1995:56–57.

[ back ] 25. Straightforward literary works may be classified also as oral-performative, as has been shown by e.g. Finnegan 1977:16–24, esp. 17 and Thomas 1992:3–4, 91–93, 102–104, 107–108, and esp. 117–127 and as Silk 2005:5 notes. In keeping with Aristotle’s well-known position in the Poetics, Silk argues contra Worman 2005 that ancient Greek culture, profoundly logocentric as it was, privileged the speaker’s or actor’s λέξις as opposed to his ὄψις. Thus ἠθοποιία (on which see immediately below) was reified almost entirely through the λέξις of performance. For the anthropology of performance, see Turner 1974 and 1986; for performance as a hermeneutic principle in Homeric studies, see Nagy 1996, Martin 1989, and Hammer 2002, esp. 26–29 (political processes in the Iliad as dramatic performances).

[ back ] 26. Martin 1989, esp. 91, 95–97.

[ back ] 27. Van Wees 1992:88ff.

[ back ] 28. See Schofield 1986:14 and discussion below.

[ back ] 29. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988 do not note that the conjunction καὶ (205) = ἢ. Dawe 1993:72 ad loc. comments on another catachresis: Menelaos praises the quantity (‘τόσα εἶπες’), not the quality of Peisitratos’ words. As it is, Menelaos refers to the quality: see Odyssey 2.199–200 (πολύμυθον) above. For both speaking and accomplishing a word, see also Iliad 1.108 (not noted by commentators).

[ back ] 30. This correspondence is presupposed by the unspoken premise that a continuum exists between mind and body. Having implied in Odyssey 4.204–205 the equivalence of speaking and doing, as noted, Menelaos refers in the next verse (206) to speech in a narrower sense (‘τοίου γὰρ καὶ πατρός, ὃ καὶ πεπνυμένα βάζεις’).

[ back ] 31. See n28 above.

[ back ] 32. See n28 above.

[ back ] 33. Schofield 1986, esp. 28.

[ back ] 34. Schofield 1986:18n26.

[ back ] 35. Cf. the formula πεπνυμένος ἀντίον ηὔδα, which introduces Telemachos’ speech (43 times) and Heath 2005, esp. 92–118.

[ back ] 36. Heath 2005, esp. 92–93, 96, 100, 117. For the similar adultocentric ideal of circumspect thinking and speech, cf. the western Apache Indians: Martin 1989:11. Also cf. Diomedes’ ‘training’ in the negotiation of public speech: Martin 1989:23–24, 105, 108, 124–130. Further on the assembly as a ‘school’ for heroes, see Chapter 4 n45 below.

[ back ] 37. See Schofield 1986: “in a supreme military commander it is euboulia, understood as ability in tactics, strategy, and the power to persuade, not warrior prowess, that counts most . . . Odysseus’ main complaints against Agamemnon in 14 is that his plan is a bad plan, not informed by euboulia’ (25, my italics). For Odysseus’ εὐβουλία as king, see Rutherford 1986:146–147, 156 with n62. The hero mentions in his Ἀπόλογοι the adventures in which he proves less than εὔβουλος, with disastrous consequences for his companions: Rutherford 1986:150–151; see Kyklopeia, 151; Aiolos’ bag of winds, Kirke, 151–152; Skylla, 153 (the hero occupies a ‘gray zone’ in terms of responsibility and, I should add, εὐβουλία).

[ back ] 38. Nikomachean Ethics, esp. 1177b27–1178a8, 1179b30–1180b28.

[ back ] 39. See n16 above.

[ back ] 40. See Schofield 1986, esp. 17–18 and Graziosi and Haubold 2003, esp. 68, 75. In the view of the latter two scholars the Iliad’s militarist attitude toward masculinity, detectable also in the Odyssey, prevents Telemachos from maturing fully as an adult male; but cf. Chapters 5–6.

[ back ] 41. For example, Πολυδάμας πεπνυμένος ‘careful Polydamas’ (Iliad 18.249), Hektor’s contemporary, exercises euboulia intellectually and verbally for the common good (though in the end Hektor at 18.295 does not heed him, thereby canceling the former’s ability to transmute μῦθος into collective ἔργον). Ideally a hero’s ability to convert μῦθος into ἔργον depends ultimately on his ability to induce others to collective action. See also Heath 2005:97.

[ back ] 42. Schofield 1986:7–8, 9 with nn10–11. See also Martin 1989:89–92.

[ back ] 43. Schofield 1986, esp. 258: “the Homeric hero is heroic in mind as well as in action.”

[ back ] 44. In other words, she guides him with her words just as she literally guides him, leading the way to the shore of Ithaka (Odyssey 2.405–406) and Pylos (Odyssey 2.12), etc.

[ back ] 45. Schofield 1986:237.

[ back ] 46. Rutherford 1986:145–160 does not cite this testimonium. (Schofield analyzes mainly Iliadic εὐβουλία but notes [1986:10n13] the examination of this attribute outside the Iliad in Thalman 1984:182.)

[ back ] 47. See n15 above. See also Hesiod Theogony 83ff., a famous parallel. Schofield 1986:25 quotes Kirk: “with few exceptions he [sc. Odysseus in the Iliad] is represented as behaving extremely rationally, indeed as initiating complex processes of analysis and decision-making that would do credit to Bertrand Russell himself.”

[ back ] 48. Cf. also Diomedes (Iliad 6.222–223); Chapter 1 n94 and Chapter 4.

[ back ] 49. ‘ἐμοὶ δ’ ὀδύνας τε γόους / κάλλιπεν’, Odyssey 1.242–243. Cf. the funerary epigram about two brothers, no. 22 (Clairmont, p89, Vari, Attica, end of the fifth century BC), verse 3: πατρὶ φίλωι καὶ μητρὶ λιπόντε ἀμφοῖμ μέγα πένθος. The formulation of Odyssey 1.240–243, as a whole, recalls that of a conventional funerary inscription.

[ back ] 50. For Hektor as an ideal son, see chapter 4 of Wöhrle 1999.

[ back ] 51. Six out of a total of nine references to his father occur in Telemachos’ public speeches. For the celebratory emphasis on the relationship between father (Odysseus) and son (Telemachos) in Book 16, see de Jong 2001:385, Heath 2005:105, and Chapter 5 below.

[ back ] 52. According to Martin 1993:235, the poet, in deliberately echoing Achilles’ phrase at Iliad 9.309 (‘χρὴ μὲν δὴ τὸν μῦθον ἀπηλεγέως ἀποειπεῖν’), implies that Telemachos is deploying the speaking style of this premier adult hero. Telemachos’ advance notice recalls a “table of contents speech” (de Jong 2001:15 ad Odyssey 1.81–95), except that the speaker is serving notice to his auditors, not the poem’s audience.

[ back ] 53. See also n17 above. The irregular nature of the assembly can also be inferred from the fact that: a) the convener of the assembly—Telemachos—is not also the first to speak (Odyssey 2.15) nor, as would be customary, is he the last; b) Aigyptios, the first speaker, remarks that this is the first assembly in almost 20 years (Odyssey 2.26–27): see de Jong 2001:47 ad Odyssey 2.15–37. Cf. Jones 1991:136 ad Odyssey 2.24: not without precedent (Iliad 20.4–18), Aigyptios’ age and experience virtually entitle him to be the first to address the assembly. (I do not agree with Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:131 ad Odyssey 2.26–27: “the poet regarded the institution [sc. assembly] as peripheral to the political organization of Ithaca.”)

[ back ] 54. De Jong 2001:47 ad Odyssey 2.6–14.

[ back ] 55. For the Kyklopes’ lawlessness, see esp. Odyssey 9.112: ‘τοῖσιν δ’ οὔτ’ άγοραὶ βουληφόροι οὔτε θέμιστες.’ In his first speech Telemachos invokes Themis as the goddess of the ἀγορή (Odyssey 2.68). For the external analepsis about the tragic death of Antiphos, see de Jong 2001:47 ad Odyssey 2.15–37 who, as the other commentators, does not however detect any political allusions here. (Dawe 1993:93 ad Odyssey 2.20 notes that Antiphos is not even mentioned in the Kyklopeia. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:130 ad loc. regard the reference to him in Book 2 as “a slight distraction.”)

[ back ] 56. Bakker 2002a:137 remarks this deliberate allusion, connecting it moreover with the φήμη that Aigyptios utters in Odyssey 2.33–34. Polyphemos as an inept speaker: Heath 2005:81–83.

[ back ] 57. Odyssey 2.33: ‘ἐσθλός μοι δοκεῖ εἶναι, ὀνήμενος . . .’ Τιμή, on which see van Wees 1992, esp. 98–99 and Chapter 1 above, may sometimes be equivalent to Weberian charisma, on which see Gerth and Mills 1958.

[ back ] 58. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:129 ad Odyssey 2.11–13: “wealthy men may keep them as pets. (xvii 309–10, Il. xxii 69, xxiii 173).” Dogs at a hero’s side are however also a signpost of initiation: see Chapter 5 below.

[ back ] 59. This constitutes narrative misdirection, which the ancient scholia also recognized: see de Jong 2001:xv, s.v. ‘misdirection’.

[ back ] 60. ὃς δὴ γήραϊ κυφὸς ἔην καὶ μυρία ᾔδη. Old man Haliserthes and Mentor are the prince’s other two Ithakan allies who will speak; all three begin their address in the same manner (Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth:1988:130 ad Odyssey 2.25).

[ back ] 61. Dawe 1993:93 ad Odyssey 2.20: “The concluding benediction is ridiculous.” This beatitude/felicitation is however legitimate because: a) Telemachos has an almost supernaturally imposing and handsome appearance, as we have seen; and b) Aigyptios suspects that the speaker bears news about the return of the army. For the requirements for a makarismos, see chapter 2 of Petropoulos 2003. For φήμη as a type of makarismos, see Chapter 2 n12.

[ back ] 62. This gesture, dictated by Homeric savoir faire, is understood here. See also Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:88 ad Odyssey 1.104.

[ back ] 63. See e.g. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:131–132 ad Odyssey 2.37 and Jones 1991:137 ad loc.

[ back ] 64. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:132 ad Odyssey 2.40ff. also connect the incoherence to Telemachos’ inexperience. Cf. Odyssey 2.200 (not noted by Herakleides or Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth), where Eurymachos characterizes the prince as πολύμυθος. At present the callow youth is πολύμυθος; later on, having matured and grown self-confident, Telemachos will prove ὀλιγόμυθος, we might say, as Jones 1988:192 ad Odyssey 20.338–344 also remarks.

[ back ] 65. De Jong 2001:46.

[ back ] 66. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:132 ad Odyssey 2.40ff.

[ back ] 67. Dawe 1993:97 ad Odyssey 2.70–79.

[ back ] 68. For charisma, see n57 above.

[ back ] 69. For laos in the Odyssey: Haubold 2000, esp. 110–115.

[ back ] 70. For the motif/comparison of the ‘gentle father of his people’, see Appendix II.

[ back ] 71. The boundaries between private life and public interest were indistinct not only for πολιτευόμενοι in Classical Athens (see e.g. Ober 1989:109–111 and Gomme 1970:318 on the motives of the tyrannicides in Thucydides 6.54ff.), but also in Homeric society/societies.

[ back ] 72. For pity as an instrument in later oratory, see Dover 1994:195–201. De Jong 2001:49 ad Odyssey 2.46 notes Telemachos’ pretence in this passage but does not link it to his broader apolitical stance.

[ back ] 73. On kleos as ‘news’, see Chapter 2 above.

[ back ] 74. Compare his threat at Odyssey 2.316–317, cited in n79 below.

[ back ] 75. De Jong 2001:506 notes that this excursus is an external analepsis. See also Chapter 5 below.

[ back ] 76. Or to put it differently, ‘parallel but dissimilar lives’.

[ back ] 77. See Chapter 5.

[ back ] 78. See n73 above.

[ back ] 79. See Odyssey 2.316–317: ‘πειρήσω ὥς κ’ ὔμμι κακὰς ἐπὶ κῆρας ἰήλω,/ἠὲ Πύλονδ’ ἐλθών, ἢ αὐτοῦ τῷδ’ ἐνὶ δήμῳ.’ This homicidal threat includes two disjunctive possibilities that imply, pace Dawe, a train of events more complex than a coup that will be planned in Pylos or Ithaka. Following Aristarchos, Dawe 1993:115 ad loc. considers these verses inconsequent and therefore spurious, on the grounds that “it is never directly suggested in our Odyssey that in his travels Telemachos will be doing anything beyond making inquiries after his lost father.” See further Chapter 5.

[ back ] 80. De Jong 2001:15–16 ad Odyssey 1.81–95.

[ back ] 81. See the opening of Chapter 1 for translation of the full passage.

[ back ] 82. Odyssey 2.48: ἅπαντα; 2.49 πάγχυ, πάμπαν, and the assonant verbs διαρραίσει and ὀλέσσει. See also Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:133 ad loc. From Odyssey 19.580 it is plain that Telemachos overdraws his impending ‘bankruptcy’.

[ back ] 83. The ancient scholia rationalize the prince’s statement as follows: ‘οὐχ ὡς προκρίνων τοῦ πατρὸς τὴν οὐσίαν, ἀλλὰ τὴν κατηγορίαν αὔξων τῶν νέων· ἄλλως τε τοῦτο μὲν ἀμφίβολον, ἐκεῖνο δὲ πρόδηλον.’ Cf. Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:133 ad Odyssey 2.46–49 and esp. Dawe 1993:95 ad loc. (“crassly materialistic”).

[ back ] 84. Telemachos thinks in openly economic terms also in the same speech (Odyssey 1.74ff.: ‘ἐμοὶ δέ κε κέρδιον εἴη . . . ’) and in his reply to Antinoos (Odyssey 1.133ff.).

[ back ] 85. See Ferrari 2002:195 for the Classical evidence.

[ back ] 86. Ferrari 2002:195, 198.

[ back ] 87. Wöhrle 1999:35–36.

[ back ] 88. MacDowell 1989, esp. 15 (cited by Ferrari 2002:195).

[ back ] 89. De Jong 2001:29–31 (with bibliography) ad Odyssey 1.249–251.

[ back ] 90. See de Jong 2001:33 ad Odyssey 1.296–297 for testimonia from the Odyssey.

[ back ] 91. Wöhrle 1999:37–48.

[ back ] 92. See Wöhrle 1999, esp. 41–44, and 124–125 for the proverbial (according to Stanford 1958:244 ad Odyssey 2.277) conviction that every generation is unavoidably worse than the preceding one. In the light of Wöhrle’s reading of Odyssey 2.270ff. the passage gains coherence, obviating the condemnation by Dawe 1993 of the essential verses 276–277. See also n93 immediately below. For a different reading of Odyssey 2.270ff., see Μανακίδου 2002:144–145.

[ back ] 93. Wöhrle 1999:37–48. Symbolically speaking, there is perhaps no greater instance of this hegemonizing seniority system at work (for which cf. Odyssey 19.183–185) than Odyssey 21.128–129. Here Telemachos, literally equivalent in physical strength to Odysseus (see also Odyssey 14.175–177), is ready to string the bow when his father nods to him, checking him from doing this. See also n95.

[ back ] 94. Haubold 2000:141–143 proposes a sociopolitical interpretation of ἀνήρ: particularly in Books 21 and 23 Odysseus is “the man” who will single out a group of “‘non-people’ which it [sc. the Odyssey] destroys in the interest of the larger whole.” See also Chapter 6 for the liquidation of the “non-people” suitors.

[ back ] 95. In Odyssey 21.131–135 he pretends that he has regressed to the condition of feckless immaturity (Odyssey 21.132–133: ‘νεώτερός εἰμι καὶ οὔ πω χερσὶ πέποιθα / ἄνδρ’ ἀπαμύνασθαι . . . ’); cf. Odyssey 2.62, where he is sincere.

[ back ] 96. Dawe 1993:96 ad Odyssey 2.60–61 (“whining self-pity”).

[ back ] 97. For heroic boasts in Homeric and other epic, e.g. African, traditions see Chapter 1 n71.

[ back ] 98. See Odyssey 2.55: ‘ἡμέτερον [sc. δῶμα]’ and esp. 2.60: ‘ἡμεῖς’, which usually refers to the speaker’s family (see Stanford 1958:237 ad Odyssey 2.60).

[ back ] 99. LfgrE, s.v. λευγαλέος.

[ back ] 100. Dover 1978:68–70 (iconography on Attic vases). See Telemachos’ wish at Odyssey 3.205–206: ‘αἲ γὰρ ἐμοὶ τοσσήνδε θεοὶ δύναμιν περιθεῖεν, / τίσασθαι μνηστῆρας . . . ’

[ back ] 101. Dover 1994, esp. 169–170.

[ back ] 102. κακὰ ἔργα (Odyssey 2.67) is elucidated by verses 73–74: ‘κακὰ ῥέζετε . . . / τούτους ὀτρύνοντες.’

[ back ] 103. See Μανακίδου 2002:131n5 for the social meaning of ἐσθλός.

[ back ] 104. Cf. also the symmetry between the dêmos’ ill-will towards Odysseus and his putative ill-will towards the dêmos: see Odyssey 2.72: δυσμενέων, 2.73: δυσμενέοντες.

[ back ] 105. Flagitatio: Jones 1991:139–140; Dawe 1993:97 ad Odyssey 2.70–79 considers the passage a prolepsis of the beggar Odysseus.

[ back ] 106. Dawe 1993:97 ad Odyssey 2.70–79. See also Odyssey 2.143 (not cited by Dawe).

[ back ] 107. Dawe 1993:97 ad Odyssey 2.80: “The gesture of throwing down the sceptre is like that made by the less desirable kind of tennis player in moments of frustration.” See also n108 immediately below.

[ back ] 108. As a teacher of rhetoric Isokrates would have awarded low marks to Telemachos’ performance. See Isokrates Antidosis 190: a gifted rhetor exhibits τόλμα ‘daring’—but never ἀναισχυντία ‘shamelessness’—as well as σωφροσύνη ‘self-control’.

[ back ] 109. Haubold 2000:111.

[ back ] 110. Odyssey 1.320–321: τῷ δ’ ἐνὶ θυμῷ / θῆκε μένος καὶ θάρσος (the ‘descent’ of Athena’s spirit on Telemachos); cf. 13.387–388: ‘στῆθι, μένος πολυθαρσές ἐνεῖσα, / οἷον ὅτε Τροίης λύομεν λιπαρὰ κρήδεμνα’ (Odysseus to Athena).

[ back ] 111. De Jong 2001:60 ad Odyssey 2.270–280.

[ back ] 112. In Phoinix’s statement in Iliad 9.440–441 (cited by Heubeck, West, and Hainsworth 1988:244 ad loc.), the νήπιος individual has no knowledge of either war or ἀγοραί. For νήπιος, see Chapter 4 n10.

[ back ] 113. See Muellner 1976:22–23, who attributes this “substandard prayer” (similar to Achilles’ in Iliad 1) to Telemachos’ depression and immaturity: “Telemachus, who has just failed in his first attempt to play an adult role before the suitors and townspeople of Ithaca, is depressed and helpless.”

[ back ] 114. Jones 2002, esp. 192 ad Odyssey 20.309–310, 320–337, 338–344; see also de Jong 2001:497 ad Odyssey 20.257ff. (de Jong 201:371–372 ad Odyssey 15.222–283 cites Telemachos’ reception of Theoklymenos as evidence of freshly acquired maturity, though her criterion here is not speaking style but the youth’s overall conduct—he treats the fugitive as a friend rather than as a suppliant.)

[ back ] 115. For νοέω as largely a mental operation, see Frame 2009, esp. 51. In the passage just quoted, Telemachos insinuates that he has now reached the stage of moral intelligence and agency signaled by epic μέτρον ἥβης, on which, see Ferrari 2002:133–135 (adducing classical evidence as well). See Frydenberg 1997:10: “Moral reasoning advances during adolescence to involve concerns about the social order” (my italics).

[ back ] 116. But cf. Odyssey 20.345–346 (the suitors laugh at him). Even as late as Book 21 these intruders do not take him seriously: Jones 2002:200–201 ad Odyssey 21.376.

[ back ] 117. Though Antinoos utters the selfsame words in Odyssey 4.463–464, this statement, as Dawe 1993:203 remarks ad loc., is less appropriate here, inasmuch as Telemachos has not yet completed his voyage.

[ back ] 118. For διδάσκειν in the Odyssey, see Chapter 1.

[ back ] 119. Dawe 1993:525–526 ad Odyssey 13.417–419, citing others, considers Athena’s response “unsatisfactory,” a virtual pirouette by our poet! I hope in what follows to furnish a counter-argument to this interpretation.

[ back ] 120. For these tokens of kleos, see Jones 2002:127 ad Odyssey 13.422. What is more, the luxurious hospitality offered to the prince (Odyssey 13.423–424) is commensurate with and emblematic of his kleos. Telemachos’ gifts correspond to the bow given by Iphitos to the young Odysseus as a μνῆμα ξείνοιο φίλοιο during his mission abroad.

[ back ] 121. Telemachos’ outburst of anger at his mother and the womenfolk may recall the standardized aggressive conduct exhibited by newly circumcised youths on returning home: they enter noisily, break small objects, and remaining silent for days they mock-beat their mother, sisters, and uncircumcised brothers. See Woronoff 1978:242–243 for the African field data.

[ back ] 122. See also Jones 2002:200 ad Odyssey 21.350–358, who however does not remark the repetition ἔργα/ἔργον.

[ back ] 123. Cf. Odyssey 21.344–345: ‘μῆτερ ἐμή, τόξον μὲν Ἀχαιῶν οὔ τις ἐμεῖο / κρείσσων, ᾧ κ’ ἐθέλω, δόμεναί τε καὶ ἀρνήσασθαι’; as magic spells also suggest, divine omnipotence consists in the ease with which a divinity can carry out A or, if he/she wishes, –A, its opposite. See Petropoulos 1993:43, 49–51.