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The Odyssey

Homer
Summary

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

13) Does Penelope really intend to marry one of her suitors?

In Book 19, Penelope declares her intention to remarry. She tells Odysseus, when he is disguised as a beggar, that she can no longer avoid it: Her parents are pressuring her, and Telemachus is “galled as [the suitors] squander his estate.” To determine which man she will marry, she devises a contest: Whoever can string Odysseus’s old bow and shoot an arrow through the twelve axes will win her hand. Eurymachus, the first suitor, can’t even string the bow, let alone shoot it. This fact hints that Penelope, despite her words, may know that shooting the bow cleanly is a near impossible task, a detail that would allow her to avoid choosing a new husband after all.