K ing Nestor
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The Wine Red Sea:  Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 - 2018 by Peter J Ponzio

King Nestor, Book III

Nestor's speech accomplishes several things in the poem: It acknowledges Telemachus as the legitimate son of Odysseus, reversing his earlier ambiguity on this point It establishes the connection between the Orestes/Agamemnon and Telemachus/Odysseus legends It reinforces the notion that glory and honor are important in the lives of Greek heroes, since there is no glory in the afterlife Telemachus tells Nestor that he would take revenge against the suitors, if only he had help from the god, to which Nestor replies: If only The bright-eyed goddess chose to love you just as she lavished care on brave Odysseus, year ago in the land of Troy where we Achaeans struggled! I've never seen the immortals show so much affection as Pallas openly showed him, standing by your father- many a suitor then would lose all thought of marriage, blotted out forever. (III, 247-255) Of course, Nestor's words are ironic, since Athena does love Telemachus, just as she loves his father, Odysseus.  There is a double irony at play, since the suitors will have their lives blotted out as a result of Athena's love. Telemachus reacts to Nestor's words despondently, and Athena, in her disguise as Mentor, rebukes him exclaiming:  “What's this nonsense slipping through your teeth?/It's light work for a willing god to save a mortal/even half the world away” (III, 263-4). Telemachus then asks Nestor about Menelaus, and what happened to the Spartan king on his journey back from Troy.  Nestor, before relating his tale, makes another diversion to speak about the death of Agamemnon and the treachery of the coward, Aegisthus.  He tells Telemachus that Menelaus arrived from Egypt on the very day that Orestes buried his mother and Aegisthus. Nestor then instructs Telemachus to proceed on his journey to Sparta, but not dwell too long, lest the suitors devour all his treasure.  As Telemachus and Athena prepare for their departure, Nestor prepares the parting gifts, traditionally bestowed on guests, for Telemachus, and advises his to spend one more night in Pylos saying:  “No, by god, the true son of my good friend Odysseus,/won't bed down on a ship's deck, not while I'm alive” (III, 395-6).  By now, the legitimacy of Telemachus has come full circle; no longer does Nestor question whether Telemachus is the son of Odysseus.  He has been accepted, and has earned his place as Prince of Ithaca, son of Odysseus.
King Nestor