As a young man, Telemachus was much favored by Athene. When Odysseus had been absent for twenty years, and Penelope was being urged to marry one of the insolent and unruly suitors who infested their home, Athene prompted the hesitant and diffident Telemachus to stand up to the suitors and order them to leave. His order did little good, but with Athene's help, he sailed to Pylos and then to Lacedaemon, to inquire after his father's fate; there he was royally entertained by Nestor and Menelaus respectively. On the journey back to Ithaca, Athene advised him to return by a different route, in order to avoid an ambush planned by the disgruntled suitors.
By the time Telemachus got back to Ithaca, he was a much more self-confident and assertive young man. He got to prove his newly acquired maturity when he joined Odysseus in slaughtering the suitors and then standing up to their outraged relatives in the final scene of the Odyssey.