In Robert Fagles' translation of Odyssey 22, why are the suitors’ spears unable to find their marks?

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In Book 22 of Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus' beggar disguise has fallen away and he has been revealed as the mighty hero. With the help of his son and a few trusty servants, he begins to battle against the suitors who have been abusing the hospitality of his home during the past decade.

In addition to having mortal help, Odysseus also has a divine helper, namely the goddess Athene, goddess of war, wisdom, and weaving. At Odyssey 22.200-309, the audience hears how the goddess assists Odysseus in his fight. At first, she appears in the guise of Mentor, but then she transforms herself into a bird and perches "on the roof beam of the smoke-darkened hall" (A.S. Kline translation).

From this position, the goddess oversees the battle and when six of the suitors try to strike Odysseus with their spears "Athene deflected most of them".