BOOK 4 – TELEMACHUS AND MENELAUS
Telemachus and Peisistratus, Nestor’s youngest son, arrive at the palace of
Menelaus, and not surprisingly, another great feast is in progress. The celebration is in honor of the King’s son and daughter who are both being wed shortly.
They are welcomed warmly by the court of Menelaus and are given seats of honor. Although Menelaus does not know who they are, they are made very welcome.
Queen Helen joins the company and immediately notices the resemblance
between Telemachus and Odysseus, and so his identity is established.
The King and Helen pay tribute to the exploits of Odysseus at the siege of
In the morning, Menelaus has a private meeting with Telemachus, who explains
the situation at Ithaca and the desire for knowledge of his father.
Menelaus met Proteus, the old man of the sea, when he was in Egypt and he
was able to obtain information including the fact that Odysseus was alive and detained on the distant island of the nymph Calypso.
Menelaus gives Telemachus many valuable gifts.
Back on Ithaca, Telemachus’ departure is discovered by the suitors and they
prepare a ship of their own in order to find the Prince and kill him when he returns. Penelope learns of her son’s departure, is grieved, and locks herself in a room.
Athena, in the guise of Penelope’s sister, appears to her in a dream to
reassure her of Telemachus’ safety.
We see quite a complex plot, which is perhaps harder to understand by
reading than it would have been for the ancient audiences who would be viewing the action on a stage. It is easier to visually identify with a character than it is to remember his name only.
We also see how involved the gods are with the lives of the mortals, and in
She regards Odysseus and his son as her prot'g's, and in doing so, she is in direct conflict with Poseidon. Whereas Poseidon uses a more direct route, which will be shown later, Athena uses subtlety, disguising herself as mortals and providing Telemachus with important advice and also comforting Penelope.
The first 4 Books and the final 10 Books frame Odysseus’ voyage and his
adventures during the ten years he was adrift.