Telegonus was the son of Odysseus and Circe, and was born to his parents during the year that Odysseus spent on Circe's island of Aeaea. According to Apollodorus, Telegonus killed his aged father in error and then married Penelope, Odysseus' former faith­ful wife.

His name means 'far born', 'born far off', from tele, 'far' and gonos, 'child', 'offspring'. This is because he was born far from Odysseus' native land of Ithaca. Another Telegonus was a king of Egypt, whom Io married. He, too, could have been 'far born'.