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Headword: *)apo\ mhxanh=s
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\ mhxanh=s: e)pi\ tw=n parado/cwn kai\ paralo/gwn. oi( ga\r tw=n tragw|diw=n poihtai\, o(/tan ei)sh/gagon ei)s th\n skhnh\n h)\ to/lman w(/ste sugxuqh=nai tou\s qeata\s pro\s ta\ ei)rhme/na kai\ e)leei=n tou\s h)tuxhke/nai do/cantas, w(s a)na/cia peponqo/tas, h)\ mish=sai tou\s pepoihko/tas h)\ paranomh/santas, ei)w/qasi qeou\s ei)sa/gein, ou)k e)p' au)th=s th=s skhnh=s o(rmwme/nous, a)ll' e)c u(/yous u(po/ tinos mhxanh=s, h(\n e)/blepon me\n pro/teron oi( qeatai\, kat' e)kei/nhn de\ th\n h(me/ran strefo/menos e)dei/knue to\ tou= qeou= pro/swpon. kai\ tou=to katastolh\n ei)=nai tou= dra/matos. e)le/geto de\ qeo\s a)po\ mhxanh=s.
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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