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Winnowing Oar

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Oar-shaped winnowing shovels

The Winnowing Oar (athereloigos - Greek ἀθηρηλοιγός) is an object that appears in Books XI and XXIII of Homer's Odyssey.[1] In the epic, Odysseus is instructed by Tiresias to take an oar from his ship and to walk inland until he finds a "land that knows nothing of the sea", where the oar would be mistaken for a winnowing shovel. At this point, he is to offer a sacrifice to Poseidon, and then at last his journeys would be over.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In 2003 the artist Conrad Shawcross created a work, Winnowing Oar, based on the object. Sculpted in oak, spruce and ash, it is an imaginary tool with a winnowing shovel at one end and an oar blade at the other.[2] It formed part of the Shawcross' 2004 Continuum exhibition at the National Maritime Museum.[3]
  • The metaphor is used in the TV series Black Sails.


  1. ^ The Odyssey, Perseus Project
  2. ^ Winnowing Oar, Conrad Shawcross, Victoria Miro Gallery
  3. ^ Continuum, Nmm.ac.uk

External links[edit]