Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

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How does Penelope's test of the bow suggest she is looking for Odysseus?

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Odysseus is the only mortal man strong enough to string the bow. Penelope has been told that Odysseus is alive; by setting up the challenge of the bow, she is giving him an opportunity to shed his disguise and take back what is rightfully his from the suitors.

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In setting up the test of the bow for the suitors, how is Penelope really saying that she is looking for Odysseus in The Odyssey?

The test of the bow and the axes comes in Book 21 of this epic of world literature. Penelope, pushed to finally create some form of test to resolve the impasse concerning her situation with the suitors as she endlessly waits for the return of her husband, goes and retrieves the famed bow of Odysseus, which he had been given by Iphitus, an old friend, just before his death by Heracles. The bow of Odysseus has only ever been able to be strung by Odysseus himself, and thus clearly Penelope has devised a test that only her husband can successfully complete, thus winning her hand. She is confident that none of the suitors will be able to complete the challenge, though of course the suitors themselves disagree with her view.

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