The Ideal Greek Man In Homer's Odyssey

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In Homer’s, The Odyssey, the traits of an ideal Greek man is described many times over. Often times, Homer indirectly illustrates these characteristics through the qualities of men who do not appear to be ideal. Zeus relates the traits of an unideal man: “Greed and folly . . . stole his wife and killed the soldier on his homecoming day”(2). Zeus’s description of Agisthos, the man who had an affair with a king’s wife and killed him after he returned from the Trojan war, chastises this behavior, he indirectly teaches men the characteristics of a quintessential man. The inverse of Greed and folly are wisdom and selflessness, two qualities that are repeated throughout the epic, and praised by the gods. Zeus praise Odysseus by saying, “Could I…show more content…
. . was sitting there among the suitors, a boy, daydreaming”(5). Homer presents three different problems within a single sentence, but also gives one solution for all of them. Telemakhos needs to become a man. Once he has reached manhood, Telemakhos will use his newfound assertiveness to drive away the suitors that plague his home, no longer will he be a boy, and he will not daydream. The experiences, however, needed to achieve becoming an ideal man, takes a much different path than Odysseus’s own journey. Where Odysseus needs to “soften”, his son must do the opposite, and “harden”. Since he never had a father to teach him about manhood, Telemakhos must use his experiences with men to learn the ideal traits of an ancient Greek man. The goddess Athena comes to Telemakhos in the disguise of Mentes, who consoles him on how to rid his home of the suitors. After this conversation, he calls the feast to order, with all suitors present. After this conversation, Telemakhos’s assertiveness has grown exponentially: “You suitors of my mother! Insolent men . . .”(12). When Telemakhos was first introduced, he would never have been confident enough to address the suitors, much less insult them. Now, however, he has grown as a man after being shown by Mentese. Even after the suitors challenge him, Telemakhos proves he is wise as well as bold: “Telemakhos made an answer, cool enough, ‘. . .My guest, however, was a family friend, Mentese, Son of Ankhialos. He rules the Taphian people of the sea”(14). The suitor, Eurymakhos, slyly tries to trick Telemakhos into giving up information about his guest, but Telemakhos is clear-headed, and wisely responds with a vague statement that will conceal the true meaning for Mentese arrival. In only one encounter with a man, Telemakhos has grown shrewder and more decisive. Because of his lack of a father figure, Telemakhos needs these experiences with other men
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