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[102] The principal passages bearing on the difficult question of the sense of πεῖραρ are (1) Od. 12.51, 162, 179, Hymn. Ap. 129, where the word undoubtedly means ropes (or knots: so Schulze Q. E. 109 ff.); cf. “πειραίνωOd. 22.175, 192, to fasten, knot a rope; (2) a group of phrases which must be considered together, though the words used differ: 11.336κατὰ ἶσα μάχην ἐτάνυσσε Κρονίων,12.436, 15.413ὧς μὲν τῶν ἐπὶ ἶσα μάχη τέτατο πτόλεμός τε,13.358-60 “τὼ δ᾽ ἔριδος κρατερῆς καὶ ὁμοιίου πολέμοιο

πεῖραρ ἐπαλλάξαντες ἐπ᾽ ἀμφοτέροισι τάνυσσαν
ἄρρηκτόν τ᾽ ἄλυτόν τε,14.389αἰνοτάτην ἔριδα πτολέμοιο τάνυσσαν,16.662ἔριδα κρατερὴν ἐτάνυσσε Κρονίων,20.101εἰ δὲ θεός περ
ἶσον τείνειεν πολέμου τέλος”: (3) numerous passages in which the word “πεῖραρ” is clearly used in an abstract sense, end, limit. Under this head we should naturally include 6.143, 20.429ὀλέθρου πείραθ᾽ ἵκηαι”, though the similar “ὀλέθρου πείρατ᾽ ἐφῆπται7.402, 12.79, Od. 22.41 would naturally come under (2). Some (e.g. Döderlein and Schulze) hold that the word in (1) is completely distinct from that in (3), which is to be taken in an abstract sense also in 13.359 and here, in the sense of the issues of strife and victory. The alternative theory is that “πεῖραρ” from the abstract sense of end has acquired the technical meaning rope's end, and that in the two last passages the metaphor is from this concrete sense, the ropes of strife and victory. In favour of the former view is the use of the abstract “τέλος” in 20.101 and of the simple “μάχην, ἔριδα” in 11.336, 14.389, 16.662. In favour of the latter is the use of the verb “τανύσσαι”, the adjectives “ἄρρηκτον, ἄλυτον” in 13.360, and the similar use of “ἀρχή”, first for rope's end, then for rope generally (see Herod.iv. 60, Eur. Hipp. 761, Diod. Sic. i. 104, Act. Apost. x. 11). Apart from the use of “πεῖραρ” it seems necessary to admit the concrete metaphor by which the tide of battle is pulled backwards and forwards, not by the combatants themselves as in the game of ‘Tug of War’ which is commonly compared, but by the gods, who thus become ‘wire-pullers’ of the battle. This somewhat grossly corporeal conception, however, must be regarded solely as a figure of speech; the Homeric gods employ, in fact, more subtle powers, and it is a reversion to an earlier stage of thought when we find the Ephesians stretching a rope from the city walls to the temple of Artemis in order that the goddess may help the defenders (Herod.i. 26), and Polykrates dedicating Rheneia to Apollo by binding it to Delos with a chain. The conclusion seems to be that the use of “πεῖραρ” in 13.359 does convey, by an extension of the metaphor in “τανύσσαι”, a distinct allusion to the meaning rope-end or knot; but that in every other case, including the present, the purely abstract sense issue, consummation, or the like, is possible, and on the whole preferable; though even thus the existence of the concrete sense will lend a certain colour. A full discussion of the question will be found in M. and R.'s note on Od. 12.51.

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