I find myself working in the Odyssey again for class. Let me be honest, I assign it whenever I can! Odysseus is my literary boyfriend, though I'm a bit of a cheater with Siddhartha. Anyway, I was working on the Telemachia and reading some work on it and one of the authors, Sarah Mandell (THE STORY OF TELEMACHUS AS A MULTIPLE CULT MYTH in the Journal of Ritual Studies, Winter 1990) and she suggested water as a liminal space. I hadn't thought of water in that way! Brilliant!
Especially where Odysseus, and Telemachus, is concerned the water is absolutely that space between modes of being. For Odysseus, he moving between being a warrior and going back to being a husband, a father, and a king. He and his crew make multiple stops along the way, but at the end of the journey, it's just him and the sea and making peace with Poseidon. That journey, through PTSD and integrating the traumas of war is a massive liminal space that is disorienting, scary, unstable, and rife with emotional upheaval; it is NOT the place to stay in for long if you can help it. There is a cleaving as well; he loses all the things that hold him in that warrior space--his crew, ships, and spoils of war--that constantly threaten to sink him in many ways, both on their layovers along the way and while they are at sea. The water between Troy and Ithaca is testing ground and he will not find his homeland until he makes it through the liminal space of the sea and truly leaves behind the traumas of war.
For his son, the sailing to other lands is a quest for his own identity but also a quest to become a man. Without his father to guide him, Athena and the kings who are the friends of Odysseus function as guides into that new reality. First, though, he must sail the wine-dark sea between them and his home.