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Headword: Apo mêchanês
Adler number: alpha,3438
Translated headword: from a machine
Vetting Status: high
[sc. A proverbial phrase] in reference to unexpected and unbelievable things. For the tragic poets, when they brought onto the stage a bold move designed to make the spectators disturbed at the things that were said, and to lead them to take pity on those who seemed to have fallen afoul of fortune (since what they suffered was undeserved), or to hate the perpetrators [of injustice] and those who commit transgressions, were accustomed to bring on gods; not setting them out on the stage itself, but on high by means of some kind of machine. The spectators would see this machine beforehand, but at the appointed time he [the poet] would have it turned to reveal the mask of the god. And this was the climax of the play. It was called 'god from a machine.'[1]
Greek Original:
Apo mêchanês: epi tôn paradoxôn kai paralogôn. hoi gar tôn tragôidiôn poiêtai, hotan eisêgagon eis tên skênên ê tolman hôste sunchuthênai tous theatas pros ta eirêmena kai eleein tous êtuchêkenai doxantas, hôs anaxia peponthotas, ê misêsai tous pepoiêkotas ê paranomêsantas, eiôthasi theous eisagein, ouk ep' autês tês skênês hormômenous, all' ex hupsous hupo tinos mêchanês, hên eblepon men proteron hoi theatai, kat' ekeinên de tên hêmeran strephomenos edeiknue to tou theou prosôpon. kai touto katastolên einai tou dramatos. elegeto de theos apo mêchanês.
cf. Diogenianus 2.84 and other paroemiographers; also the scholia to Plato, Clitophon 470A (and other scholia).
For the proverbiality of the phrase see also e.g. Demosthenes 40.59: "Timocrates alone, as if from a machine, testifies that..."
[1] cf. theta 181.
Keywords: architecture; biography; daily life; definition; ethics; philosophy; poetry; proverbs; religion; rhetoric; science and technology; stagecraft; tragedy
Translated by: William Hutton on 20 March 2002@18:17:36.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added note and keywords; cosmetics) on 21 March 2002@03:38:01.
William Hutton (added keyword) on 10 January 2007@11:03:35.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 4 April 2012@03:26:42.


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