It is stated that a good father teaches his son many lessons. There are many lessons that fathers teach their sons every day. How to ride a bike or throw a football are common occurrences in “important” lessons that fathers teach their sons. Patience, strength, and humility are examples of traits taught every day to a child. Most important lessons; however, come from character. Odysseus went to war when Telemachus was an infant. As he grew up, Telemachus had a tough time with his father being away. The re-encounter of Odysseus and his son, Telemachus, shows how alike Telemachus is to his father and the many traits that Odysseus gave to his son.
In the twenty years of absence from his father, Telemachus learned what type of man his father was. When visiting Nestor, he learns the character of his father with stories of Odysseus’ heroics. Not only does he receive confirmation from Nestor as the type of man his father is, Nestor’s son, Peisistratus also regales as to the type of person Odysseus was. With the urging of Athena, Telemachus sets out to find word about his father.
Upon returning home, Telemachus visits Eumaeus. Unbeknownst to Telemachus, Eumaeus has a visitor, Odysseus in disguise. Both show their likeness in patience and wisdom in seeking refuge in the swineherd’s shelter. Wanting to learn what type of man his son became, Odysseus watches. Odysseus soon witnesses the courage, wisdom and prudence that his son has developed. Twenty years away from each other, enduring the same trials and tribulations have prepared them for this moment. Respect is what Odysseus witnesses first hand from his son. Odysseus, dressed as a beggar, offers his seat to Telemachus. His son refuses stating “keep your seat, stranger. We’ll find another one” (16.49).This in turn shows Odysseus that his son has humility. Children learn their qualities from the people that surround them. In the Odyssey, Odysseus shows many qualities of a father to his son.
Odysseus, speaking as the beggar, reflects his knowledge and understanding of the suitors. Odysseus says “The suitors acting like this in your house and going against the will of a man as great as you” (16.102-103). He tried to instill confidence in Telemachus as a father would, by putting emphasis on the trait to stand up for yourself, your home and your family. Patience is shown in Odysseus at this point for he waits to reveal himself. Confidence is a major trait that usually a child will learn over time and it seems to be lacking since Odysseus has been gone for so long. “Father…I know your great reputation… But this is too much for me” (16.255-257). This is when Odysseus realizes his son needs more encouragement and confidence. Odysseus tells his son “You’re a man now” (16.325) and gives his son the “pep talk” that is needed for him to realize he is destined to be a great man in his father’s footsteps.
After Eumaeus leaves, Athena urges Odysseus to reveal himself to his son Telemachus. Caution is another trait that Odysseus has impressed upon his son. Odysseus has shown much caution in his journeys. At first Telemachus does not believe his father is finally home. Telemachus blurts out “You cannot be my father Odysseus. You must be some spirit, enchanting me” (16.206-207) He is cautious in accepting Odysseus. He feels he is being tricked. Once again Odysseus reassures his son “But I am here, just as you see me, home at last” (16.218). Once he discards his moment of doubt, Telemachus “threw his arms around his father and wept” (16.226-227).
It is also apparent that Telemachus is just as respectful to the gods as Odysseus. Telemachus shows immediate respect to the gods by