The role of Telemachus in the Odyssey is a perennial puzzle. This paper argues that Telemachus must reconstruct authority in Ithaca in order to present the death of the suitors as a lawful execution rather than as an extra-legal murder. This is part of the Odyssey's strategy to exonerate Odysseus from any possible blame. The job falls to Telemachus because in the Odyssey authority is premised on personal relationships, and the suitors simply do not know Odysseus. The construction of authority occurs in a sympotic and domestic arena where Telemachus competes against the suitors to assert control over the key social practices of marriage (gamos), transportation (pompê), and hospitality (xeinia).
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