Origins of Mentor
The term “mentor” is derived from a character in Homer’s epic tale, The Odyssey. Odysseus, the king of Ithaca left his wife, Penelope, and infant son, Telemachus, to fight with the Greek alliance in the Trojan War. He entrusted guardianship of his son and his royal household to an old friend, Mentor, anticipating a swift return. However, the Trojan War lasted ten years and Odysseus was prevented from returning home for an additional 10 years. Meanwhile, young nobles had long occupied Odysseus’ palace in hopes of taking control of Ithaca and denying Telemachus his birthright. Eventually the goddess, Athene, interceded to ensure Odysseus’ safe return. After their reunion, father and son repelled the usurpers and order was restored. Over time, the term, mentor, has come to mean an experienced and trusted adviser, especially one who advises those with less experience (Colley, 2000).
Colley, H. (2000). Exploring Myths of Mentor: A Rough Guide to the History of Mentoring from a Marxist feminist perspective. Retrieved from http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001500