Odysseus and Telemachus (“Like one escaped from death.”)

After Odysseus had been away from his home in Ithaca for 20 years or so, Telemachus, who was an infant when Odysseus disappeared, set out to find him. Late in The Odyssey, Telemachus having followed Odysseus trail through many adventures, himself a decade away from home, returns as Athena advises Odysseus to show himself to his son, and they are reunited at last, with tears and embraces …

Athena watches as Telemachus kisses his father.

“”As a father, brimming with love, welcomes home
his darling only son in a warm embrace–
what pain he’s borne for him and him alone!–
home now, in the tenth year from far abroad,
so the loyal swineherd hugged the beaming prince,
he clung for dear life, covering him with kisses, yes,
like one escaped from death.”

(Homer, The Odyssey; 16. 19-25).

— — — —

The story of Odysseus and Telmachus is a lyrical dream from a world of myth where striving is rewarded; the “heroic” world where harmony can be and is restored, once monsters have been slain and suffering has been endured.

Nietzsche warned us against seeing the ancients (such as Homer) as naive in their happy endings in which suffering produces redemption and harmony; rather in the (slaying and) striving of the story is an analogue of our reality. This is the Odyssey for us; to discover how it is those who have trapped and hidden our children live as people who view what they are doing as “good,” and to pierce the membrane of that belief, by showing that they are doing it badly (unsuccessfully).

Our kidnapped children are like slaves, deprived of their identities. Just as racism is a “role dictator” (“you, who are less than us, have to be harnessed and appropriated to live in the conditions and identity assigned to you”) it is less visible but similar with prejudice against children, who must serve adults’ needs and be denied their rights and developmental needs (even when they’re idealized by a standard against which they must fail).

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