Fenelon: Telemachus

Fenelon: Telemachus

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Fenelon's Telemachus (1699) is, alongside Bossuet's Politics, the most important work of political theory of the grand siecle in France. It was also the most widely read work of the time, influencing Montesquieu and Rousseau in its attempt to combine monarchism with republican virtues. Fenelon tells of the moral and political education of Telemachus, young son of Ulysses, by his tutor Mentor (the goddess Minerva in disguise). Telemachus visits every corner of the Mediterranean world and learns patience, courage, modesty and simplicity, the qualities he will need when he succeeds Ulysses as King of Ithaca. It is the story of the transformation of an egoistic young man into a model ruler, and is meant (among other things) as a commentary on the bellicosity and luxuriousness of Louis XIV. The present English edition follows closely that of Tobias Smollett published in 1776.show more

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Critical Biography; Biographical sketches; 1. Book I: Telemachus and Mentor, in search of Ulysses, arrive on the island of Calypso. The nymph is still bemoaning the departure of Ulysses; 2. Book II: Telemachus' account of Sesostris' wise rule in Egypt; 3. Book III: Telemachus' tale of the cruelties of Pygmalion and Astarbe at Tyre; 4. Book IV: Mentor reproves Telemachus for too easily falling under Calypso's spell. Telemachus continues his narrative; 5. Book V: The story of Idomeneus, king of Crete, who kills his son and is banished. Mentor refuses the Cretan throne; 6. Book VI: Telemachus falls in love with the nymph Eucharis, but Mentor tears him away from Calypso's island; Venus and Cupid are furious; 7. Book VII: Telemachus and Mentor learn of the violent deaths of Pygmalion and Astarbe. Adoam describes the simplicity of the pastoral land of Betique; 8. Book VIII: Telemachus and Mentor are tricked by Venus into landing at Salente, the new city of the exiled Idomeneus. Salente prepares for war against the Mandurians; 9. Book IX: Idomeneus describes the founding of Salente, the cause of the war with the Mandurians, and his grief in finding Nestor (hero of the Trojan war) on the opposing side; 10. Book X: Mentor acquaints himself with Salente and instructs Idomeneus in the art of governing. He stresses peace, agriculture, and disinterestedness, and the suppression of luxury; 11. Book XI: Idomeneus tells Mentor of his betrayal by the self-loving Protesilaus, and of the latter's efforts to ruin the virtuous and honest Philocles; 12. Book XII: Telemachus, in the camp of Idomeneus' allies, gains the good will of Philoctetes (who had been on bad terms with Ulysses). Philoctetes gives an account of the death of Hercules; 13. Book XIII: Telemachus' quarrel with Hippias; the king of the Daunians attacks the forces of Idomeneus and the allies. Death and funeral rites of Hippias; 14. Book XIV: Telemachus descends into the infernal regions in search of Ulysses. There, in the Elysian fields, he sees the after-life of just kings. He meets the shade of this great-grandfather, who reveals that Ulysses still lives; 15. Book XV: Telemachus defeats the enemies of Idomeneus and his allies, and vanquishes the treacherous Adastrus (who had killed the son of Nestor); 16. Book XVI: Telemachus refuses to divide the lands of the vanquished Daunians, and lets them choose a good king from their own numbers; 17. Book XVII: Telemachus returns to Salente to discover Mentor's austere reforms in place: the city no longer overwhelms the countryside. Telemachus falls in love with Antiope, the virtuous daughter of Idomeneus; 18. Book XVIII: Despite Idomeneus' pleas, Telemachus and Mentor leave Salente. Mentor gives his final advice about good government to Telemachus, then reveals himself to Minerva, goddess of wisdom. Telemachus returns to Ithaca, where he finds his recently returned father, Ulysses; Index.show more