espa espa

The “God from the machine” (6th c. B.C.) – Deus ex machina

It was a lifting machine (crane) of the ancient theatre (since Aeschylus’ era), used for the impressive hovering and descending of determinant for the action of the play persons on the stage (e.g. heroes, gods, etc.) and rarely of heavier loads (such as chariots or horses with riders, platforms with the chorus, etc.). According to the merging of literary and vase painting information, this consisted of a long articulated beam that was based on a rotating vertical pillar. The load was ascended by rope (”hammock”) through a pulley and manual winch located on both ends of the beam. The beam had a counterweight to balance the risen load. The machine was mounted behind the stage near the left passageway in a nearly horizontal position. The operator of the machine, after balancing the load (with counterweights), gave (through hand levers) the required inclination and then the required rotation to the beam so that the load be found above the middle of the proscenium. One wheel at the end of the balanced beam may have facilitated the operator in the rotation. When the action requested, he executed waving effects to the weighted load. Finally, he led the load onto the proscenium with the help of the winch.

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