Sage Against the Machine: The Politics of the Deus ex Machina

Doctoral Dissertation


In argument and in action, the deus ex machina appears as arbitrary resolution. The “god from the machine,” however, regularly reveals an appreciation for the insolubility of politics and of the problems of political theory. More than affirming enduring questions that extend beyond the circumstances of Greek drama, the deus ex machina can enact, if not understand, the fact of the “perplexity” (aporia) of politics. In Chapter 1, I derive a methodology from Aristotle’s and Nietzsche’s famous critiques of the integrity of the deus ex machina. In Chapters 2 through 4, I study Homer’s Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Eumenides, and Euripides’ Medea in search of the distinctive ways those poets deploy the figure of the divine interruption of ordinary life. In Chapter 5, I defend a reading of Plato’s Republic as concluding in a philosophical iteration of the deus ex machina in the Myth of Er.


Attribute NameValues
Author Jordan Dorney
Contributor Susan D. Collins, Committee Member
Contributor Catherine H. Zuckert, Research Director
Contributor Arlene Saxonhouse, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
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Defense Date
  • 2018-11-19

Submission Date 2018-11-21
  • Aeschylus

  • Euripides

  • Socrates

  • Medea

  • Eumenides

  • Nietzsche

  • political philosophy

  • Birth of Tragedy

  • epic

  • Odyssey

  • Greek tragedy

  • The Republic

  • Aristotle

  • Homer

  • Plato

  • Oresteia

  • poetry

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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