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The 7 Most Awkward Moments in Classic Literature, Ranked

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#4: Telemachus trying and failing to even string his father’s bow

Towards the end of The Odyssey, Penelope presents her suitors with the same challenge I offer to anyone wishing to date me: shoot an arrow through the holes of twelve axes, and you’ll win the honor of the lady’s hand. 

Now, let’s just ignore the fact that it’s kind of weird Telemachus even attempts this one in the first place. (Does he want to marry his mom?) He takes the bow, and tries to string it FOUR TIMES in front of everybody before Odysseus (disguised as a beggar) gives him this “please, just stop” hand motion from across the room. In the Samuel Butler translation, Telemachus says, “I am too young, and have not yet reached my full strength.” In the Robert Fagles translation, however, he yells, “God help me! Must I be a weakling, a failure all my life?” which is a big mood if I ever saw one.

Topics: Books
Tags: wuthering heights, books we love, hamlet, the great gatsby, pride and prejudice, the odyssey, classic literature, awkward moments, assigned reading, being awkward, oedipus rex, that awkward moment

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