This chapter starts with a discussion of Odysseus and Telemachus, father and son, both returning to Ithaca and meeting a the hut of the swineherd Eumaeus. When the son approaches the hounds “fawn on him, not a growl as he approaches.” In sharp contrast to the reception given Odysseus by this famous dog Argus, by this younger pack he is almost “torn apart and eaten”. This being a ritualized death generally reserved for Theban princes (and the poet Euripides).As I mentioned before, the academic son does not seem to like his Father too much and begins telling us about the alternate father figures he picked in his teenage years. He calls them mentors. Two different “music” teachers and a clearly gay couple who took them under their arm(s). In this way the classicist compares himself to Telemachus and Eumaios who had “been a father figure to Telemachus his whole life”. When they meet;
“Eumaios sprang to his feet, and the bowls in which he was mixing wine fell from his hands, as he made towards his master. He kissed his head and both his beautiful eyes, and wept for joy. A father could not be more delighted at the return of an only son, the child of his old age, after ten years’ absence in a foreign country and after having gone through much hardship. He embraced him, kissed him all over as though he had come back from the dead,” 16:12-21
Odyssey reveals himself to Telemachus shortly thereafter creating quite a scene. The son asks the father what he thinks of the scene and the father admires Odysseus ‘ self-restraint. “It must have been hard for him to have to sit there watching while his own son acted like that other guy was his real father.” The implication being the father was hurt by the son’s fondness for these other men, but maybe it was something else.
Earlier the son shares that his father had some experience with homosexuality and we had just heard, “My parents cultivated this man as a friend , I suspect to make a show of how much they trusted him, since back then it was not necessarily the case that parents would let their adolescent children spend unsupervised days with music teachers who were known to have roommates.”
In my opinion the self restraint the father shows is not watching his son treat other men like a father but rather worrying that some of his son’s “mentors” might have kissed his head, both his beautiful eyes, embraced him and kissed him all over . (The things parents have to do for their children!)