Word “Mentor” Originates from Homer

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The word “Mentor” meaning someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person comes from the ancient Greek language. The name is derived from a character found in Homer’s Odyssey named Mentor (in Greek ΜΕΝΤΩΡ).

Mentor was the trusted friend of Odysseus. During the Trojan war, Mentor stayed behind in Ithaca to watch over the upbringing of Telemachus; the son of Odysseus. Mentor advised Telemachus with the objective of preparing him to take responsibility over family responsibilities during his father´s absence.

In three cases. Telemachus received advice from the goddess of wisdom Athena unknowingly. Athena took the form of Mentor. These cases were when Tilemachus travelled to Pylos; during the killing of his mother’s suitors and lastly during the revolt of  the supporters of  Eupithis. 

In his book “The Adventures of Telemachus” , 18th century author Fenelos used the term “mentor” derived from the Odyssey to deal with the subject of education. According to Fenelon a mentor should be both a guide and educator and mentoring a relationship between teacher and student.