Deus Ex Machina

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Deus Ex Machina

 

(Latin for “god from a machine”), a dramaturgical and stage device in ancient Greek theater in which a divinity suddenly appears on stage, which leads to the denouement. His intervention resolved the conflict at the root of the tragedy and determined the fate of the heroes. A special lifting machine—the aiorema —helped perform the deus ex machina. Sophocles’ tragedy Philoctetes made use of this device, as did Euripides’ tragedies Helen, Hippolytus, Iphigenia in Tauris, Ion, and Electra, among others.

In a figurative sense the expression deus ex machina applies to the unexpected resolution of any sort of conflict.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

deus ex machina

improbable agent introduced to solve a dilemma. [Western Drama: LLEI, I: 279]
See: Miracle
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.