Penelope announces to the suitors that she has prepared a contest to find her new husband.
May I have a shot at stringing the bow?
"Now Penelope sank down, holding the weapon on her knees, and drew her husband's great bow out, and sobbed and bit her lip and let the salt tears flow (Homer 16-19)." After being courted by the rude suitors, Penelope finally decides its time for her to choose one.
See how he handles it, the sly old buzzard!"
"Then back she went to face the crowded hall... Thus in her beauty she approached the suitors, and near a pillar of the solid roof she pause, her shining veil across her cheeks, her maids on either hand and still, then spoke to the banqueters:... You found no justification for yourselves- none except your lust to marry me. Stand up then: we now declare a contest for that prize. Here is my lord Odysseus' hunting bow. Bend and string it if you can... I join my life with his (Homer 19-38)."
"Odysseus the beggar asks the suitors if he might try the bow, Worried that the old man may show them up, they refuse, but Penelope urges them to let Odysseus try (Homer 95-95)." While the men struggle to string the bow, Odysseus asks for a shot to string it and they refuse. However, Penelope convinces them to give him a try.
Don't do this!
"And Odysseus took his time, turning the bow, tapping it, every inch, for borings that termites might have made while the master of the weapon was abroad. The suitors were now watching him, and some jested among themselves (Homer 94-99)." Odysseus takes his time stringing the bow while the suitors watch, some angry and some amazed at his skill.
"Odysseus in one motion strung the bow. Then slid his right hand down the cord and plucked it, so the taut gut vibrating hummed and sang a swallow's note. In the hushed hall it smote the suitors and all their faces changed (Homer 111-115)." Odysseus sucsesfully strings the bow and is able to shoot straight through the axes. All of the suitors are surprised at the "old man".
"He dropped his eyes and nodded, and the prince Telemachus, true son of King Odysseus belted his sword on, clapped hand to his spear, and with a clink and glitter of keen bronze stood by his chair, in the forefront near his father (Homer 136-140)." Odysseus calls to Telamachus and tells him to prepare for the fight with the suitors.