Father-Son Relationships in “The Odyssey”


The epic poem, “The Odyssey” by Homer is a great work of literature that narrates the story of Odysseus as he returns to Ithaca from Troy. Due to the patriarchal nature of the Greek society, the reader observes that the relationship between father and son is a major subject or theme that stands out in this work. Despite the issues of distance and separation, this argumentative paper describes the depiction of positive connections between fathers and sons in this poem and how they both possess similar qualities that are founded on the people’s traditions, such as courage, ambition, and honor.

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Father-Son Relationship

The nature of the relationship existing between men and their sons in this poem is something informed by the culture of the Greeks. It is evident that the society encourages leaders and other members of the society to raise brave sons who can take their positions and avenge for them even when they are gone. During the early years of every boy, father should use their competencies and resources to protect them against any form of harm (Liang 43). Using these insights and social attributes, Odysseus is does whatever he can to ensure that Telemachus is out of danger. Despite the fact that he is away for around twenty years, he manages to connect with and empower his son.

The author of this epic uses the concept of separation appears to support the positivity of the relationship between Telemachus and Odysseus. Although the two individuals are separated for many years, they eventually develop immeasurable love, support, and admiration for each other (Dougherty 118). This is a clear indication that the existing distance is what cements or strengthens their relationship. Throughout this time of separation, they find meaning in taking good care of one another and focusing on the survival of their extended family.

The presence of emotional connection is evident throughout this epic by Homer. For instance, the poem indicates that Telemachus and Odysseus cried and shed tears after seeing each other (268). This presentation means that they had developed and sustained a strong bond that would support their goals. They would also find new reasons to empower each other in an attempt to deliver victories.

The distance that existed between them due to the ongoing war in Troy made it possible for Telemachus to identify and develop most of values and traits his father exhibited. This kind of achievement made him more courageous and optimistic (Dougherty 119). He reflected deeply in an attempt to develop a superior philosophy that would make it easier for him to earn victory at Troy. This revelation indicates that his father was a role model whose attributes were worth emulating.

After Telemachus returned back to Ithaca, the reader observes that Odysseus was pleased and proud of him. This was the case since he had worn, thereby portraying the true elements of a hero. The epic goes further to reveal that the two shared similar values and aspects that made them successful in their conquests. Such attributes, therefore, play a positive role in strengthening the existing son-father relationship. Homer also supports this idea by indicating that sons should be ready to follow their fathers’ wishes (Chapman 173). It is also evident that children should keep their fathers’ secrets whenever possible.

The subject of responsibility is another defining factor of the kind of relationship existing between Odysseus and Telemachus. In this poem, it is agreeable that sons appear to have an obligation to take good care of their fathers (Barker and Christensen 92). This kind of requirement compels them to take revenge and get rid of any form of humiliation that their fathers might have encountered. The story the King narrates to Telemachus also support this idea since Orestes went a step further to kill his father’s murderer (Liang 47). This kind of portrayal reveals how sons should do everything possible to safeguard the honor of their respective fathers.

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After returning back from Troy, Telemachus finds many men why are trying to befriend his wife. It is during this time that he attacks them for disturbing his son. This is a clear indication that he is ready to protect his male child from any form of interference, pain, or abuse (Barker and Christensen 92). Many people in this Greek society appear to appreciate the fact that young boys should be supported and empowered if they are to become true heroes.

A strong bond also existed between Laertes and his son, Odysseus. In this poem, it is notable that Laertes became extremely sick because Odysseus was away for many years. He remained worried and incapable of pursuing his goals efficiently. The absence of his child is a clear indication that he was somehow unhappy. However, the return of Odysseus uplifted his spirits and made him healthy again (Barker and Christensen 102). Consequently, he found new energy to fight their enemies, alongside his son and grandson. This kind of relationship emerges as the main ingredient for victory and succession in this society.


The relationship between fathers and sons in this poem is something that revolves around individuals who emerge victorious in battles. This portrayal reveals that sons are deemed effectiveness only after winning wars. This is a clear indication that a negative relationship characterized by hatred and apathy could have emerged if sons lost battles (Dougherty 127). However, the author selects specific characters whose confidence, bravery, and integrity made it easier for them to triumph, thereby strengthening their relationships with their fathers.

While this kind of bond should always be natural, sons of brave fathers have to go a step further to prove their worth by emulating their values and eventually strengthening it. Homer’s society expected such sons to obey their fathers, remain separated for several years, and earn victories for their people. Those who achieved such goals eventually made their fathers proud and happy. Similarly, there was a need for adults to protect their young children and ensure that they acquired similar values (Liang 48). Such gains would make them successful and honorable members of their respective societies.


The relationship existing between a son and his father in Homer’s epic poem appears to be quite strong and unbreakable. Using the examples of Odyssey, Laertes, and Telemachus, the author reveals that such a bond is intrinsic in nature and aimed at supporting the goals of every society or kingdom. Fathers appear to do whatever is possible to support and protect their sons from any form of harm. On the hand, sons are required to use their immense power to serve their fathers by keeping their secrets and pursuing revenge.

Works Cited

Barker, Elton T., and Joel P. Christensen. “Odysseus’s Nostos and the Odyssey’s Nostoi: Rivalry within the Epic Cycle.” Philologia Antiqua, vol. 7, no. 1, 2016, pp. 85-110.

Chapman, David W. “Not the Same Old Story: Dante’s Re-Telling of The Odyssey. Religions, vol. 10, no. 3, 2019, pp. 171-176.

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Dougherty, Carol. “Nobody’s Home: Metis, Improvization and the Instability of Return in Homer’s Odyssey.” New Essays on Homer: Language, Violence, and Agency, vol. 44, no. 1-2, 2015, pp. 115-140.

Liang, Meng. “The Making of Odysseus the Hero in Homer’s Odyssey.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, vol. 6, no. 7, 2017, pp. 42-48.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, July 13). Father-Son Relationships in “The Odyssey”. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/father-son-relationships-in-the-odyssey/

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StudyCorgi. "Father-Son Relationships in “The Odyssey”." July 13, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/father-son-relationships-in-the-odyssey/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Father-Son Relationships in “The Odyssey”." July 13, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/father-son-relationships-in-the-odyssey/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Father-Son Relationships in “The Odyssey”'. 13 July.

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