Test of the Great Bow


Plot Analysis

Penelope retrieves Odysseus’s great bow from the storeroom and her [[#|maids]] bear axe heads into the main hall. Penelope explains the game: whoever can string her husband's bow and shoot an arrow through the twelve axe heads will marry her. The leader of the suitors gives it a try first; he is unable to string the bow three times, then is about to succeed on the fourth when Odysseus gives him a look and he stops. Other suitors fail to string the bow. Meanwhile, Odysseus follows Eumaeus and Philoetius outside and reveals his true identity to them, using his scar as proof. After they swear loyalty to him, he instructs them to give him the bow and [[#|lock the door]] when the time comes. Back in the hall, they fail with the bow, and Odysseus asks to try the bow, but Antinoos threatens him not to. Penelope insists the beggar be allowed the opportunity; if he succeeds, she will give him clothing and other gifts. Telemakhos sends her to her room, and then [[#|orders]] Eumaeus to give Odysseus the bow. The door and courtyard gate are also locked. Odysseus examines the bow as the suitors mock him. He smoothly strings it as Zeus thunders, and then shoots the arrow through the axe heads.