Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

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Book 21 Questions and Answers

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 224

Study Questions
1. Why didn’t Odysseus take his bow with him to Troy?

2. What were the two parts of Penelope’s proposed competition?

3. Why are the suitors surprised at Telemachus’ ability to set up the axes?

4. Why does Telemachus assert that he should take part in the competition?

5. What makes him fail?

6. What is Leodes’ lament after he fails to string the bow?

7. How does Antinoös try to simplify the competition after Leodes’ failure?

8. What most perturbs Eurymachus concerning his failure to string the bow?

9. Why is Eumaeus initially unable to bring Odysseus the bow?

10. What does Odysseus do immediately before stringing the bow?

1. It is a memorial to his friend, Iphitus.

2. The two parts are to string the bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe handles.

3. He had never before seen them set up in this way.

4. If he succeeds, his mother will be freed of her obligation to marry one of the suitors.

5. Odysseus signals him to fail at the last moment.

6. He longs for death now that he has failed in his courting of Penelope.

7. He commands Melanthius to start a fire to heat the bow and to bring fat to make it limber.

8. Their failure is a sign of Odysseus’ absolute superiority over them.

9. He is daunted by the threats of the suitors.

10. He examines it scrupulously.

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