You all know about Odysseus and the winnowing-fan, right? He comes home, and kills half the people on Ithaka, and finally gets to go to bed with his initially suspicious wife, and he tells her all about his travails in stupefying detail, including how Poseidon said… well, I’ll let Jamie Rieger retell it in his imitiable way:
He said I have to go build him an altar in some foreign land where they’re never seen the sea. And the way I know that is, I walk around with an oar on my shoulder until people stop saying “Nice oar, dumbass!” and start saying “Where are you going with that oddly shaped winnowing fan?” And then I make an altar right then and there. And then I live happily ever after. Not too shabby, eh?
Well, Conrad Roth of Varieties of Unreligious Experience, after an introductory riff, has posted a discussion of the history and attributes of the winnowing fan (which, it turns out, comes in two varieties, the liknon or basket-fan and the ptuon or shovel-fan), with philology and pictures of Francis Darwin’s gardener and a mediaeval capital and citations of Jane Harrison and the Bible and references to a useless art object and the extremely useful pizza peel, all served up with his usual impeccable style and engaging rhetoric. Go, learn, enjoy.