The Odyssey

Odyssey, book 21

What test does Penelope set up?

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Penelope retrieves Odysseus' great bow from the storeroom and her maids bear axeheads into the main hall. Penelope explains the game: whoever can string her husband's bow and shoot an arrow through the twelve axeheads will marry her. Telemakhos 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 Eumaios and Philoitios 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.