It is curious that this line, which evidently alludes to a mere trial of strength by pulling at a rope, “ἑλκυστίνδα”, should have been made the base of all sorts of mystical interpretations and esoteric myths from the earliest times. Thus in Plato we find, Theaet. 153C, “τὴν χρυσῆν σεῖραν ὡς οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἢ τὸν ἥλιον Ὅμηρος λέγει”: Eur. Or. 982 “τὰν οὐρανοῦ μέσον χθονός τε τεταμέναν αἰωρήμασι πέτραν ἁλύσεσι χρυσέαισι”. A collection of similar far-fetched allegories will be found in Eustathios ad loc. The neo-Platonists took up the idea, and from them it was handed on to the alchemists of the Middle Ages, in whose mystical cosmogony the aurea catena Homeri signified the whole chain of existences up to the quinta essentia universalis. The rope is here of gold simply because it is divine.
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