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Telemachus (also Telemachos; literally, "far-away fighter") is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope. His part in the saga of Odysseus was described by Homer in the epic poems of the Iliad and the Odyssey, in which his part of the story is often portrayed as a passage into manhood from childhood. In particular, the first four books of the Odyssey are sometimes referred to as the Telemachy.

In the Odyssey

Telemachus was born on the day that his father was called to fight in the Trojan War. Attempting to renege on his oath to defend Helen, Odysseus sowed salt into his fields in feigned madness. The emissary Palamedes, who was sent to call Odysseus to battle, placed the infant Telemachus before the plow. Odysseus stopped, proving his sanity and obliging himself to the war.

After his father had been gone for nearly 20 years, young Telemachus was visited by Athena, who disguised herself as Mentor and advised him to travel in search of news of his father. He traveled to Pylos and Lacedaemon. Their rulers, Nestor and Menelaus, were friendly, and held his father in high regard, but did not know what became of Odysseus. Telemachus forms an "intimate friendship" with Nestor's son Pisistratus, who accompanies him on the search for his father, however, the two are only able to find out that Odysseus is being held captive by Calypso. When Telemachus returns to Ithaca, Athena in another disguise prompts him to visit the swineherd Eumaeus, instead of returning to his home. At the pigkeeper's cottage he discovers that the beggar staying with Eumaeus is his father. He then accompanies Odysseus and the swineherd into the hall where they kill all the suitors.

Other Appearances

  • According to Aristotle and Dictys, Telemachus, Odysseus's son, married Nausicaa, King Alcinous's daughter, and had a son named Perseptolis or Ptoliporthus.
  • According to the Telegony, Telemachus married Circe after his father's death.