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Family Wealth: — Keeping It in the Family — How Family Members and Their Advisers Preserve Human, Intellectual, and Financial Assets for Generations, Revised and Expanded Edition by James E. Hughes Jr.

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Chapter 17. The Art and Practice of Mentorship

This chapter is dedicated to John O'Neil, with thanks for the many profound questions he has put to me and to so many others.

Mentor appears for the first time in the western canon as a character in The Odyssey.[25] We are told by Homer that Mentor is an old and deeply respected man into whose hands Odysseus has given the kingdom of Ithaca while Odysseus sails away to fight the war with Troy. We are also told that Mentor has the duty of bringing up Telemachus, Odysseus' son, so that should Odysseus not return from the war, Telemachus can eventually become the king in Odysseus' stead. Mentor thus represents two roles: first, that of regent, a person of deep trustworthiness who can safely hold the space for another, while that other goes on a quest; second, that of the elder and teacher who can instill knowledge in another, particularly wisdom about the other person's journey of self-discovery. No sooner does Mentor take on these roles than Homer has Athena, the goddess of wisdom, take over the shell of Mentor's body and, masquerading as Mentor, give advice and assistance to Telemachus in his journey of personal growth. Then, at the end of the first part of The Odyssey, Mentor, inhabited by Athena, appears as a peacemaker, giving critical advice to all parties on how they may end their war and attain the riches of peace. Here is yet a third role of Mentor, as an elder person of wisdom assisting a whole country in its journey to achieve ...

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