altar to dig the great winnowing fan through her heaps.....

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sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
The threshing-floor, too was under her protection. Both were her temples where at any moment she might be present. "At the sacred threshing-floor, when they are winnowing, she herself, Demeter of the corn-ripe yellow hair, divides the grain and the chaff in the rush of the wind, and the heap of the chaff grows white." "May it be mine," the reaper prays, "beside Demeter's altar to dig the great winnowing fan through her heaps of corn, while she stands smiling by the sheaves and poppies in her hand."
Source: Mythology http://www.dl.ket.org/latin1/things/holidays/thanksgiving/twogreat.htm 3rd paragraph

Hello,
Would you please be kind enough to clarify the blue part to me? I can't make head or tail of that.

Thank you so much
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'May it be mine to dig' means 'Let me have the opportunity to dig'.

    If we take the spoken sentence on its own we can see the structure more easily:

    "May it be mine beside Demeter's altar to dig the great winnowing fan through her heaps of corn, while she stands smiling by the sheaves and poppies in her hand".

    A winnowing fan is a scoop used to shake and toss the corn, allowing the lighter chaff to blow away.
     
    Last edited:

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    My honest opinion of that is that the writer has lost the plot.
    The may it be mine bit seems to be a way of praying for something.

    What he is praying for is to be by her alter and operating the fan which sorts the wheat from the chaff.

    Fans do not usually 'dig'. It is an odd choice of verb.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The sentence does read a little oddly at first: but it is apparently a translation from the Greek.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I can't understand this part at all = to dig the great winnowing fan
    We regularly speak about digging one thing into another. 'He dug his hands gloatingly into the pile of coins'.
    In the present case, the winnower digs the scoop through the corn, picking it up and tossing it.
     
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