We see now the reaction of the people to Telemachus‘ speech. If one views the story of Telemachus within the Odyssey as a narrative, it is very much a coming of age story. Namely, Telemachus in Book 1 is a boy. In Book 2, he begins to think and act (according to Greek cultural notions) as a man, i.e., as an adult member of his society and specifically as an adult of his social status as a member of the royal family. Yet Telemachus cannot be just any ordinary adult male Greek; he must be a hero– a man who shapes events in a nearly godlike manner, given the Greek conception of a god (as discussed in the introduction to this blog).
A modern reader might miss the significance in this narrative of Telemachus swaying the people of Ithaca through his oratory. Yet in ancient Greek society, the means of power is ultimately persuasion of the people λαός. A hero was fundamentally a ruler. These short few lines show for the first time Telemachus acting as a hero, a leader of men. He’ll need od more to cement that status, but what we see here is the beginning.
- In Defense of Plato (thephilosophyofscience.wordpress.com)