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Telemakhos (Telemachus) was the son of Odysseus and Penelope. At the beginning of the story, Telemakhos was a naïve young man, some years after the Trojan War. There were many suitors at their home (Odysseus had not yet returned) who desired to inherit his mother, and thus take over his father’s kingdom of Ithaca. He lacked the courage to chase them away. He also had the feeling that his father was probably dead. Athena, a Greek goddess, feels compelled to help the young man in his plight. With the permission from her father Zeus (also a god), she inspires him to seek news about his father’s whereabouts, at Pylos and Sparta. Athena disguised herself as Mentes (his father’s friend). She also advises him to drive away his mother’s suitors. Telemakhos suspects that ‘Mentes’ was a goddess in disguise: he was right. He would, the next day, call an assembly to banish the suitors (SparkNote).
Before Telemakhos embarked on his journey, Athena would again to visit him; this time disguised as Mentor (Odysseus’ friend), assuring him that he will be successful. She would later take the form of Telemakhos himself before setting the sail. Athena would later advise him not to use the open sea. However, he informs her that he feels a god’s presence: therefore, his safety is guaranteed. On approaching Pylos, the two find Nestor (king) offering sacrifices to Poseidon, god of the sea. Having no information about Odyssey, he sends them to Sparta, home of Menelaus and Helen. Here, Telemakhos was assured that his father was still alive (SparkNote).
After learning of his son’s secret voyage, Penelope was upset. Her suitors even threatened to ambush him on his return. Therefore, she was worried that she may lose both her husband and son. Athena takes the form of Iphthime (Penelope’s phantom sister) to assure her son is safe; that the gods are with her son (SparkNote).