Study Guide

Laertes in The Odyssey

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Odysseus' father. For some reason, he seems to live in a shack at the outskirts of Ithaka, although he also apparently has a nice farm. Mostly, he mourns for Odysseus and then for Telemachos.

As Eumaios tells the boy, he would, "while he so greatly grieved for Odysseus yet would look after his farm and with the thralls in his household would eat and drink, whenever the spirit was urgent with him; but now, since you went away in the ship to Pylos, they say he has not eaten in this way, nor drunk anything, nor looked to his farm, but always in lamentation and mourning sits grieving, and the flesh on his bones is wasting from him" (16.137-145).

So, obviously, he's thrilled when Odysseus comes back, and even more thrilled when Odysseus and Telemachos get into a fight about who's braver: "What day is this for me, dear gods? I am very happy. My son and my son's son are contending over their courage" (24.513-515). Ah. It warms a grandfather's heart.

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