With this he flung the scarlet cloak from off his back, and sprang up erect; and he laid his sharp sword from off his shoulders.
First then he set up the axes, when he had dug a trench, one long trench for all, and made it straight to the line, and about them he stamped in the earth. And amazement seized all who saw him, that he set them out so orderly, though before he had never seen them. Then he went and stood upon the threshold, and began to try the bow.
Thrice he made it quiver in his eagerness to draw it, and thrice he relaxed his effort, though in his heart he hoped to string the bow and shoot an arrow through the iron. And now at the last he would haply have strung it in his might, as for the fourth time he sought to draw up the string, but Odysseus nodded in dissent, and checked him in his eagerness.
Then the strong and mighty Telemachus spoke among them again:
“Out on it, even in days to come shall I be a coward and a weakling, or else I am too young, and have not yet trust in my might to defend me against a man, when one waxes wroth without a cause. But, come now, you that are mightier than I,
make trial of the bow, and let us end the contest.”
So saying, he set the bow from him on the ground, leaning it against the jointed, polished door, and hard by he leaned the swift arrow against the fair bow-tip, and then sat down again on the seat from which he had risen.
Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spoke among them: “Rise up in order, all you of our company, from left to right, beginning from the place where the cupbearer pours the wine.”
So spoke Antinous, and his word was pleasing to them. Then first arose Leiodes, son of Oenops,
who was their soothsayer, and ever sat by the fair mixing-bowl in the innermost part of the hall; deeds of wanton folly were hateful to him alone, and he was full of indignation at all the wooers. He it was who now first took the bow and swift arrow, and he went and stood upon the threshold, and began to try the bow;
but he could not string it. Ere that might be his hands grew weary, as he sought to draw up the string, his unworn delicate hands; and he spoke among the wooers:
“Friends, it is not I that shall string it; let another take it. For many princes shall this bow rob of spirit and of life, since verily it is better far
to die than to live on and fail of that for the sake of which we ever gather here, waiting expectantly day after day. Now many a man even hopes in his heart and desires to wed Penelope, the wife of Odysseus; but when he shall have made trial of the bow, and seen the outcome, thereafter let him woo
some other of the fair-robed Achaean women with his gifts, and seek to win her; then should Penelope wed him who offers most, and who comes as her fated lord.”