A long while ago, in an Italian class we were discussing the meaning of the English verb propitiate. I tried to argue that a usage like "they propitiated Demeter with offerings in the hope of a bountiful harvest" was perfectly valid in English, but my classmates were adamant that propitiate in English always involves quelling or appeasing some angered party.
The question came up because we came across the Italian verb propiziare. According to our teacher, the Italian version of my Demeter usage above would be fine.
I'm certainly not denying that what my classmates insist on is the more frequent meaning. Are there more things between heaven and earth than are dreamt of in their philosophy, or am I clinging to at best a quite obscure use of the English word?