poised Telemachus put in sharply, “why deny
our devoted bard the chance to entertain us
any way the spirit stirs him on?
This line is Telemachus’ response when his mother asks the bard Phemius to stop singing about the Trojan War, because it upsets her. Telemachus’s harsh words for his mother show that he is no longer a boy, but they also reveal tension between mother and son. Odysseus’s long absence has disrupted the harmony of his family.
if you decide the fare is better, richer here,
destroying one man’s goods and going scot-free,
all right then, carve away!
Having demanded that the suitors leave his house, Telemachus is immediately forced to admit that he does not have the power to make them leave. By referring to “one man’s goods,” he hints that he is ready to claim Odysseus’s possessions as his own—but he does not dare make this claim directly. Telemachus is growing into manhood, but without his father, he is still powerless.
summoning up his newfound tact, replied,
“Please, Menelaus, don’t keep me quite so long.
By the end of his journey, Telemachus has learned how to speak well and get the most out of his hosts. In this way, he is very like his father, who manages to extract enormous wealth from the Phaeacians by telling them his story. The fact that Telemachus has learned this crucial skill during the course of his journey also shows that he has matured.
Good blood runs in you, dear boy, your words are proof.
Here, Menelaus confirms that Telemachus is a worthy son of his famous father. Odysseus is a great talker, persuader and storyteller, so Telemachus’s words convince Menelaus that he’s his father’s son. Menelaus’s approval signals to us that Odysseus, too, will approve of the son he hasn’t seen for twenty years, which makes us anticipate their reunion.
“My fault, father,” the cool clear prince replied,
“the blame’s all mine. That snug door to the vault,
I left it ajar.
During the battle with the suitors, Telemachus makes a mistake and allows the suitors to get hold of weapons. The mistake shows his inexperience. At the same time, he is quick to step forward and accept the blame, which shows his maturity and sense of honor.