Telemachus: Homeric Parallel

Book I of The Odyssey opens with an invocation of the muse, followed by an account of a council of the gods on Olympus at which Zeus decides that it is time for Odysseus to return home. The scene then shifts to Ithaca, where we find Telemachus, Odysseus's son, "a boy, daydreaming" of his father's return (1:115; Fitzgerald, p. 17). He is unhappy, threatened with betrayal and displacement by the suitors who have collected around his mother, Penelope, during his father's absence. These arrogant men, led by Antinous (whose name means "antimind") and Eurymachos ("wide fighter"), mock the omens sent by Zeus, going so far as to plot Telemachus's death and to boast that they will kill Odysseus should he return alone. (See headnote to Ithaca, p. 566.)

In the council on Olympus, Pallas Athena (the goddess of the arts of war and peace, of domestic economy, and of human wit and intuition) is revealed as Odysseus's patron. In Book 1 she appears to Telemachus disguised as Mentes, king of Taphos and an old friend of the family, and advises him to assert his independence of his mother and journey to the mainland in search of news of his father. In Book 2, now disguised as Mentor, the guardian of Odysseus's house and slaves during his absence, Athena encourages Telemachus and helps him find ship and crew for the voyage to the mainland.

(from Don Gifford with Robert J. Seidman, "Ulysses" Annotated: Notes for James Joyce's "Ulysses" [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988], p. 12. The first numbers following quotes from The Odyssey [for example, 1:115] refer to book and line numbers in the Greek text; English translations, unless otherwise noted, are from The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fitzgerald [New York: Doubleday, 1961])