"Three times he made it quiver in his efforts to bend it; three times his strength failed"

In order to loose an arrow, the string that connects the tips of a bow must be stretched taut. This means that when stringing the bow, its limbs need to be bent so that the string can be slipped over. Depending on the strength of the bow, this can be an extremely difficult and physically exerting task. Penelope’s task is therefore twofold; a test of strength must be passed before even attempting the test of skill.