chapter  2
36 Pages

The Principles and Practice of Mentoring

WithJohn Carruthers

Woe to him that is alone: for, when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up.

Mentor in History

The story of Mentor comes from Greek mythology. It appears in Homer’s Odyssey circa 800 BC. Mentor was the faithful companion of Odysseus, the King of Ithaca. Before setting off for the Trojan Wars, Odysseus instructed Mentor to stay in Ithaca and take full charge of the royal household. A particular duty was to raise the king’s young son, Telemachus, to be a fit person to ascend the throne in due time as the successor of Odysseus. This meant that Mentor had to be a father figure, a teacher, a role model, an approachable counsellor, a trusted adviser, a challenger, an encourager, among other things, to the young Telemachus in order that he become, in time, a wise and good ruler. Also from Greek mythology we learn that Athene would sometimes assume the form of Mentor. Now Athene was female and the goddess of Wisdom. Perhaps then we should add mother figure and wisdom to the attributes of Mentor. With all these desirable qualities, Mentor was admirably endowed to oversee the growth of Telemachus from innocent boyhood to splendid manhood.