A Conversation for Science Fiction - Some Hard, Some Soft
Henry Started conversation Sep 6, 2001
The phrase "Deus ex machina (God from the machine)" to quote from your hardsf/softsf article is back to front. The translation is "Machine of the Gods". It's an ancient Greek theatrical term used to describe a device that would extricate the hero/heroine from impending difficulties. Quite literally, it would consist of, say, a painted cloud suspended on wires and containing a suitably godlike actor/actress who would rain pretend lightining on whichever poor unfortunate had it coming.
Interestingly, it's a technical term, though it sounds delightfully magical.
Spiff Posted Oct 24, 2001
Sorry to be pedantic, especially because this description of the term is doubtless useful to those who are not familiar with its theatrical origins, but your 'correct' translation was not really 'correct'.
The latin can be literally translated as "God from [or 'out of'] the machine", as the article said.
Nonetheless, I would (humbly) suggest that the researchers behind this interesting article might consider integrating Frogbit's explanation (perhaps without the alternative translation) of the DEM as a help to their readers.
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