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Is Telemachus the last moral outpost in a sea of corruption in Ithaca?

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Introduction

Rachel Kenyon Is Telemachus the last moral outpost in a sea of corruption in Ithaca? In the absence of his Father, Telemachus has been left to serve as the master of the family household, despite being very young himself- perhaps only 20 years or so. He comes up against a number of antagonistic characters in the first two books and The family home has become overrun with suitors for his mother, trying to convince the grieving Penelope to remarry, as would have been expected of a widowed (assuming Odysseus is dead,) woman as that time. However, rather than attempting to court her in the was that was considered 'proper' at the time, they have encroached on the family, taken advantage of Odysseus' wealth and been entirely unsympathetic to the family's feelings at the loss of their father. A more somber attitude would perhaps be more suitable to their situation rather than theirs of vulgarity and even celebration. Telemachus had offered them hospitality, which they've chosen to take advantage off. ...read more.

Middle

This preoccupation with maintaining a good reputation could be interpreted as arrogance- perhaps Telemachus is so unhappy with the presence of the suitors because he feels that he warrants more attention and respect as the son of a King than they're offering him? I doubt this. I don't think that Telemachus is all that concerned with his own reputation as he is with that of his Father and his family. He shows a high level of respect towards his father, however he doesn't award the same level of respect towards his mother. He chastises her, quite insensitively, in front of the suitors when she breaks down and cries for the loss of her husband. This seemed quite harsh to me- I understand that in the context that this was written it was no strange thing for a woman's son to have more power than his mother, but I still feel that he should show more respect and sympathy towards her than he does. ...read more.

Conclusion

Instead he hides himself away from the grieving family, perhaps in mourning, or in shame of his son's failure and his grandson's inability to cope. Whether he is ashamed or grieving, in my opinion, neither are suitable excuses for abandoning his family. Having said this, I don't dislike Laertes; towards the end of book one, there's evidence that Laertes is a man of morals: 'Laertes had procured [Eurycleia] at his own cost long ago... He had treated her in his home with all the respect due to a loyal wife, though for fear of his own wife's displeasure, he had not slept with her.' It was an accepted fact at the time that masters exercised the right to sleep with their slaves, regardless of their marital status. However, Laertes shows faithfulness to his wife In summary, whilst I believe that Telemachus is undoubtedly the most moral of all of the characters, he is by no means the only moral character present in Ithaca. ...read more.

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