I am reading Herodotus of Halicarnassos again, as I try to do every few years. Herodotus is a cunning storyteller, and his Histories was the Book of Gold for me as a teen. I have just found this story: when Cambyses of the Persians, after conquering Egypt, sent spies into Ethiopia to discover its weaknesses, the king of that land confronted the spies in this way:
Your king is not a just man--for were he so, he had not coveted a land which is not his own, nor brought slavery on a people who never did him any wrong. Bear him this bow, and say, -- 'The king of the Ethiops thus advises the king of the Persians -- when the Persians can pull a bow of this strength thus easily, then let him come with an army of superior strength against the long-lived Ethiopians -- till then, let him thank the gods that they have not put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiops to covet countries which do not belong to them.'
How proud, that speech! That people were of course a foot taller than the Persians of that time, and the king must have seemed very imposing.
The test of the bow is a motif in many ancient legends. I am reminded especially of Rama in Hindu myth, who passes the test of stringing the bow of Shiva (see the portrait) - in fact passes the test so well that the bow breaks when he strings it!
What other myths or stories use this test?