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In Homer’s most famous epic poem, “The Odyssey” there is certain facts that are obvious to the reader about the nature of a father –son relationship. For instance, that the structure and the organization of the Greeks was patriarchal (Caldwell 40). The men were highly respected especially those that were strong and courageous. Their sons were mostly prized too if they exhibited their father’s achievements and skills.
In Odyssey therefore, it is expected that the relationship of Odysseus and Telemachus is as admiring as it is; the father is proud of his son, who is courageous and the son is proud of his father who has earned a reputation as a warrior who defended his territory bravely.
However, it is surprisingly that distance earned the father –son affection. A son must earn his father’s respect and it is by leaving home and fighting his own battles that a son is able to achieve this. Through distance, a son and a father establish their share of beliefs and values but not through direct contact
In the Odyssey, the father and the son spend most of their time apart and it is through distance that they developed admiration and love for each other. The physical distance between the father and the son is vital and cements their relationship. The father created the distance by being far from home for twenty years.
His son then decided to go on a journey and look for him. It is through this journey that Telemachus is able to prove his worth. Blazina says that there is unique bond between Odysseus and his son Telemachus “desired to connect all along” (285) and the distance strengthens this bond and proves their achievements.
Telemachus went and faced the king when he was enquiring on his father’s whereabouts as explained in the most important quotes from the Odyssey, “to see lord Menelaus…There face-to-face [to] implore father’s whereabouts” (Homer 52).
There is also the connection of emotion when the father and the son meet, “salt tears rose from the wells of longing in both men…./So helpless they cried pouring out tears” (Homer 268). The distance allowed the father and the son to develop a strong bond and feelings towards each other.
In respect to the distance that existed between the father and the son, Telemachus discovered his father in him. Through Telemachus victory, Odysseus saw himself in his son. There are some secrets, not pronounced in fathers that appear in their sons. The father is similar to his son and the vice versa is true. Some aspects and values that fathers and sons share define them.
These values are in The Odysseys by Homer to help shape father- son relationship. According to Homer there are characteristics, “that a son must be willing to do anything for his father, whether it is avenging him or keeping a secret for him (49).” Through these believes and values, the father and son establishes a solid relationship where every one looks after the other.
With this sense of responsibility to look after one another, the sons will always avenge their fathers from any humiliation. When Telemachus went enquiring from the king about his father the king told him of Orestes and what he did to the man who murdered his father. Nestor says, “… you’ve heard of Agamemnon – how he came… how Aigisthos waited to destroy him…paid a bitter price for it in the end… that is a good thing…a son behind him… (Homer 41).
According to Homer every man should have a son that would avenge for him when he his gone. A son should look at his father as his greatest father and uphold him in his highest esteem. The father on the other hand should protect his son from any harm. Odysseus would do anything to protect his son from any danger. He was gone for twenty years but when he returned Odysseus made sure that he protected his son.
He attacked all the suitors who disturbed his son saying, “You yellow dogs, you thought I’d never make it/you took my house to plunder…You dared bid for my wife while I was still alive…Your last hour has come. You die in blood” (Homer 410) He made sure that he put them to death because that what they deserved for disturbing his son.
In conclusion, the relationship between a father and his son is strong bond that cannot be broken. It is usually internal as expressed in the Odyssey. It is stipulated clearly that a father will go to any limits to protect his son and with the same measure; a son will protect his father.
However, the quality of this relationship is determined through the distance between the two. As aforementioned, a worth of a man develops by fighting and winning own battles. Odysseus won his battle just like Telemachus and each saw himself through the lenses of victory of the other and their relationship grew stronger every day.
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Blazina, Chis. “Mythos and Men: Toward New Paradigms of Masculinity.” The Journal Of Men’s Studies 5.4 (1997): 285-294.
Caldwell, Richard. The Origin of the Gods: A Psychoanalytic Study of Greek Theogonic Myth, 1993. New York: Oxford University Press.
Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. W. H. D. Rouse. New York: Signet Classics, 1999.