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Adolescence Of Telemachus And Nausikaa In Homer's Odyssey

967 words - 4 pages

Homer's Odyssey introduces us to a wide variety of characters. Two of the younger characters are Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, and Nausikaa, the daughter of King Alkinoos. Both Telemachus and Nausikaa are approximately the same age, although the book is not specific about Nausikaa's age. More importantly, we know that they are both teenagers. Almost all adolescents must make a transition from childhood to young adult and in doing so they share two central traits, the wish for independence and rebelliousness, and Nausikaa and Telemachus are no exceptions.

            Adolescence is defined as the transitional period between childhood and adulthood. Despite Telemachus' age, he doesn't really begin this transitional period until Athena comes to him. In the beginning of the book, although Telemachus is eighteen, he is still a child. Telemachus' childhood was, for the most part, without a father. Because of this, he feels it is his duty to protect his mother.  Unfortunately, Telemachus lacks the resolve to expel the suitors and he doesn't completely think his actions through.

            However, when Athena comes to him in the form of Mentes, everything suddenly changes. Athena acts as a catalyst to propel Telemachus into the next stage of his life. This is where his adolescence truly begins. Telemachus now wants to be independent. It is possible that he wants to harvest his father's kleos and live up to the "Odysseus tradition" and the Odysseus name. Telemachus rebels against his mother, whom he thought he was supposed to protect, and mounts an expedition to go search for his father without telling her anything.

            It is clear that when Telemachus became a teenager he immediately began exhibiting strong rebellious and independent feelings. The main difference between Telemachos and Nausikaa in this respect is that Telemachos went from being a child to a teenager practically overnight, and therefore it is likely that his rebellious outburst was far more sudden and far more pronounced. On the other hand, Nausikaa grew up in a balanced family, and her development was much more gradual. Consequently, her acts of rebellion would be more discreet.

            We first meet Nausikaa in Book VI, in which Odysseus begins his stay in Phaiakia. Nausikaa is a princess, and it is most likely that she was sheltered as she grew up by her parents. In most cases, children of noble descent are discouraged from mingling with the common folk, discouraged from doing risky or dangerous things, manual labor, etc. Athena comes to Nausikaa and tells her to go to the washing in the morning so that she may meet Odysseus. Athena does not need to tell her that she will meet a strange man and that she should help him, because the...

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