Throughout the first five books of the Odyssey we hear little of Odysseus the hero of the poem, instead we focus of his son Telemachus and his journey to seek information of his father. This journey initiated by Athena is to spark Telemachus" growth into a mature man. .
But I shall make my way to Ithaca, so that I may stir up.
his son a little, and put some confidence in him.
This journey takes Telemachus to Pylos and Sparta where Nestor and Menelaus teach Telemachus how to act as a mature man, including learning how act around elders, how to construct appropriate speech, knowing when and when not to speak, and he learns about the Gods. This journey is Telemachus" "rites of passage" where after completing it he has learnt how to act as a man. The stories of Telemachus enhance the poem because they incorporate the flattering mentions of Odysseus from Athena, Nestor and Menelaus, adding to the greatness of Odysseus. We are able to see just how much Odysseus" absence affects his family. The story of Telemachus" coming of age also celebrates Odysseus" life because it completes the picture of his unparalleled success by giving him a worthy successor, whose success he can observe while still alive unlike other great Greek heroes.
When the Poem begins, Telemachus is around twenty years old. He is considered mature in age however due to his fathers absence and the chaotic life he has led over the past three years due to the suitors invading his household, his growth into a mature man has been held back. He has not developed the skills of a man and as a result is seen by others as a boy and treated as such. Homer makes this apparent when; at the end of book I Telemachus is going to bed. The language is representative of Telemachus" softness at this stage in his life.
He opened the doors of the close-compacted bedchamber,.
and sat down on the bed and took off his soft tunic.
and put it into the hands of the sagacious old woman,.