Deus Ex Machina

Please help me understand the *exact *derivation of Deus Ex Machina.

From Wikepedia

"The Latin phrase “deus ex machina” has its origins in the conventions of Greek tragedy. It refers to situations in which a mechane (crane) was used to lower actors playing a god or gods onto the stage. "
I find this unlikely for several reasons.

First of all, a *Latin *phrase to describe *Greek *tragedy, oh really?

Second, dis ancient theatre really employ devices like cranes to lower actors onto the stage? My impression is that Roman/ Greek theatres were open air affairs, no proscenium arch or wings to hide actors.
My own understanding is that ex machina actually means outside the plot. There were no “machines” that lowered actors onto the stage.

Am I right? I’d hate to “correct” the wikipedia article if I’m wrong.

Britannica agrees with the Wikipedia article. And

And let’s not forget Merriam-Webster. Three sources is convincing enough for me.

Not sure why you find this unlikely. The Romans were famous for adapting Greek culture, Greek theater being part of this.

There was traditionally a structure behind the stage called a skene, which created a sort of backstage and also upon which the actors supported by cranes would play the various Gods.

Check a dictionary. It doesn’t mean “outside” the plot but rather a plot development that seems contrived and “cheap” to resolve whatever the main conflict is.

Some sources say the crane hoisted a statue of a god, rather the actor playing the god. The actor would speak the god’s lines from offstage.

Yeah. Perfect example: Medea. You can read it for yourself here.

She kills her children to punish Jason, their father. Then when he finds out about it, and would probably kill her if he could get his hands on her, suddenly she appears up above him in the Sungod’s Chariot (she’s the granddaughter of the Sungod, y’see, and apparently he turns up to rescue her before her irate husband can kill her for killing their children) and goes “nyah nyah” at him, and then poof! It’s The End. By today’s standards of “playing fair with the audience”, having a supernatural chariot magically appear and whisk your protagonist away because you can’t figure out how to end your story is “cheating”.

Contents of the box: a file allowing Olive to escape an otherwise impossible lockup.

Here’s the spot in Aristotle’s Poetics where he mentions the device: section 1454 (link to English).

I read somewhere (I completely forget where, sorry) that it means “God out of the machine” and basically means that, in a play, a means of rescuing the protagonist from danger appears from seemingly nowhere and for seemingly no reason.

A good example is the denouement of Roger Zelazny’s first novel, This Immortal. The ending is pure deus ex machina, yet justifiable because the entire book is a riff on Greek mythology and history. The mysterious working of fate is the book’s theme.