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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
References in periodicals archive ?
Strangely, the hope that this deplorable situation will be salvaged by deus ex machina is continuously kept alive, possibly because -- once again -- those who have a vested interest to do so keep refuelling the burner.
In Poetics, Aristotle deprecates the application of the deus ex machina (1454a33-b9), which is frequently reckoned to be an extraneous, artificial and improbable means to close a play.
After informing Geoff that his Deus Ex Machina shirt was very popular among the gay fraternity in Sydney, she took us on a tour of the 800-plus bikes in her collection, including some very rare models like a 10920s Indian and a Vincent Black Knight just to name two.
But the great sacrificial scene was bungled in Vick's handling, with bathetic scrubbing down of a butcher's slab and no reaction at all from the protagonists at the surprise intervention of the supernatural voice of the deus ex machina.
I hope to accomplish what I obviously hadn't when he was in eighth grade: namely, to have him consider a concept of God other than a childish deus ex machina idea that just doesn't work.
Micawber was saved by Dickens' deus ex machina, and Brown, son of the manse that he likes to remind us he is, is apparently hoping for similar divine intervention.
Just as often an editorial board will carefully come to consensus around one candidate only to have the publisher swoop in, deus ex machina, to dictate the paper's formal support for another.
In a newspaper industry deus ex machina, a small chain of Chicago weeklies stepped in late Wednesday to buy three Sun-Times Media Group (STMG) papers literally minutes after their demise had been announced.
For one thing, their telecarb never seems to work when it is most needed--a great plot device that keeps it from becoming an annoying deus ex machina. Worse, it seems to be slowly turning Jack into a Thrittene--a fate he'd rather avoid.
One gets the impression that the government is a deus ex machina. There is a kind of excessive political rationalism that assumes that democratic discussion ensures that every institutional malfunction can be corrected at another level by further discussion and another institution.