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“‘However,’ I continued, ‘after this comes reaping, I fancy. So give me any information you can with regard to that too.’

“‘Yes—unless I find that you know just what I do about that subject too. You know, then, that the corn must be cut.’

“‘I know that, naturally.’

“‘Are you for standing with your back to the wind when you cut corn, or facing it?’

“‘Not facing it, no! I think it is irritating both to the eyes and to the hands to reap with cornstalks and spikes blowing in your face.’ [2]

“‘And would you cut near the top or close to the ground?’

“‘If the stalk is short, I should cut low down, so that the straw may be more useful; but if it is long, I think it would be right to cut in the middle, in order that the threshers and winnowers may not spend needless trouble on what they don't want. I imagine that the stubble may be burnt with advantage to the land, or thrown on the manure heap to increase its bulk.’ [3]

“‘Do you notice, Socrates, that you stand convicted of knowing just what I know about reaping too?’

“‘Yes, it seems so; and I want to know besides whether I understand threshing as well.’

“‘Then you know this much, that draught animals are used in threshing?’ [4]

“‘Yes, of course I do; and that the term draught animals includes oxen, mules and horses.’

“‘Then do you not think that all the beasts know is how to trample on the corn as they are driven?’

“‘Why, what more should draught animals know?’ [5]

“‘And who sees that they tread out the right corn, and that the threshing is level, Socrates?’

“‘The threshers, clearly. By continually turning the untrodden corn and throwing it under the animal's feet they will, of course, keep it level on the floor and take least time over the work.’

“‘So far, then, your knowledge is quite as good as mine.’ [6]

“‘Will not our next task be to clean the corn by winnowing, Ischomachus?’

“‘Yes, Socrates; and tell me, do you know that if you start on the windward side of the floor, you will find the husks carried right across the floor?’

“‘It must be so.’ [7]

“‘Is it not likely, then, that some will fall on the grain?’

“‘Yes, it is a long way for the husks to be blown, right over the grain to the empty part of the floor.’

“‘But what if you start winnowing against the wind?’

“‘Clearly the chaff will at once fall in the right place.’ [8]

“‘And as soon as you have cleaned the corn over one half of the floor, will you at once go on throwing up the rest of the chaff while the corn lies about just as it is, or will you first sweep the clean corn towards the edge,1 so as to occupy the smallest space?’

“‘Of course I shall first sweep the clean corn up, so that my chaff may be carried across into the empty space, and I may not have to throw up the same chaff twice.’ [9]

“‘Well, Socrates, it seems you are capable of teaching the quickest way of cleaning corn.’ things; and so I have been thinking for some time whether my knowledge extends to smelting gold, playing the flute, and painting pictures. For I have never been taught these things any more than I have been taught farming; but I have watched men working at these arts, just as I have watched them farming.’ [10]

“‘And didn't I tell you just now that farming is the noblest art for this among other reasons, because it is the easiest to learn?’

“‘Enough, Ischomachus; I know. I understood about sowing, it seems, but I wasn't aware that I understood.’”

1 The meaning of πόλος here is really unknown, I believe.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 249
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 936
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