1808: The Medical and Physical Journal, vol. XIX (January–June 1808), “Dr. Thomas Beddoes’s Letter to Sir Joseph Banks”, page 469 (William Thorne, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street)
In what respect ought we to deem a London education (equal in time and diligence) with a St. Andrew’s diploma, inferior to an Edinburgh education and diploma? In what but the interposition of the grinders, those dii ex machina in the great scene of Edinburgh Doctor dubbing.
1847: Prof. Karl Otfried Müller and George Cornewall Lewis, Esq. (translator), A History of the Literature of Ancient Greece: to the Period of Isocrates, page 375 (George Woodfall and Son, Angel Court, Skinner Street)
Euripides considers the murder of Ægisthus and Clytemnestra as proceeding from the vindictive spirit of the brother and sister; they bitterly regret it as soon as done, and even the Dioscuri, who appear as dii ex machina, censure it as the unwise act of the wise god Apollo.
Sometimes he may be seen plying busily between the City Hall and the Astor House, wherein, just before municipal elections, assemble in mysterious conclave the magnates — the Dii ex machinâ — of State and City politics; or, mayhap, shouldering his way, with many oaths, through the motley crowd that throngs “ Old Tammany ” on council nights; but almost before we have had time to note his appearance, hey, presto, change!
“Madeline” reminds one of the “Masque of Comus,” with its abundance of Dii ex machina, but not in the happiness of the plot, which is forced and unnatural, with a tinge of the medico-psychological. Yet there is occasionally a passage of real poetical fire, and some examples of diction of a high order.
1872: Charles Beard, The Theological Review: A Quarterly Journal of Religious Thought and Life, vol. 9, page 195 (Williams and Norgate)
One party have made the Gospel History a miracle factory without an aim or purport, and a mythological narrative of supermundane incomprehensible dii ex machina; the other party, in revolt from this error, instead of denying false conclusions, have denied and maltreated the true history.
1879: John Pentland Mahaffy, Euripides, page 52 (Macmillan and co.)
It is remarkable that as in the Heracles and Helen there are practically two prologues, so here there are two resolutions of the plot — as it were two dii ex machinâ — one by the Delphian priestess, the other by Athene, who appear at the end to dispel remaining doubts.
1880: John Pentland Mahaffy and Prof. Archibald Henry Sayce, A History of Classical Greek Literature : The poets (with an appendix on Homer, by Prof. Sayce), vol. 1, page 350+ laterreprints (Longmans, Green, and co.) · (not independent: modestly altered passage by the same author (John Pentland Mahaffy) of Euripides in the 1879 quotation immediately hereinbefore)
As I noted two prologues in the Heracles, so here there are two resolutions of the plot — as it were two dii ex machina — one by the Delphic priestess, the other by Athena, who appears at the end to remove all doubt.
1880: John Frederick Smith, Studies in religion under German masters, page 95 (Williams and Norgate) · (identical to the 1872 quotation of Charles Beard in The Theological Review hereinbefore, except for the additions of “insane Acta Sanctorum,” and the circumflex in machinâ to mark the ablative, and the de-italicisation of the semi-colon)
One party have made the Gospel History insane Acta Sanctorum, a miracle factory without an aim or purport, and a mythological narrative of supermundane incomprehensible dii ex machinâ; the other party, in revolt from this error, instead of denying false conclusions, have denied and maltreated the true history.
Odin might himself have saved his favourite, and he might have slain Svipdag’s son Asmund with his spear Gunguer; but he does not do so; instead, he brings Vagnhofde to protect him. This is well calculated from an epic standpoint, while dii ex machina, when they appear in person on the battle-field with their superhuman strength, diminish the effect of the deeds of mortal heroes, and deprive every distress in which they have taken part of its most earnest significance. Homer never violated this rule without injury to the honour either of his gods or of his heroes.
1903: New England Insurance Exchange, Twentieth Anniversary of the New England Insurance Exchange, Boston, Mass., January 8, 1903, page 97 (Standard Printing Co.)
[…] and lightning risks is so universally recognized and appreciated that comment here is unnecessary. In truth, might they be called the “dii ex machina”.
1910: John Hannon, The Devil’s Parables: And Other Essays, page 118 (R. & T. Washbourne)
Mr. Wells, for instance, in order to supply authority and its sanction in a Socialist community, just borrows machinery from Nietzsche, the maniac, and from the feudal history of Japan. As dii ex machina, he introduces […]
1919: Thomas Moody Campbell, Life and Works of Friedrich Hebbel, page 132 (R.G. Badger)
The name of these two dii ex machina was Zerboni di Sposetti, and the elder of them thought and spoke of Hebbel as a modern prophet.
1961: University of Ceylon Review, page 64 (Ceylon University Press)
Mephistopheles, as we see him in folk-tales, Marlowe, or Goethe, is what he is precisely because he is not human (though he may display certain human traits), and the authors were thus under no obligation to provide human motivation for his actions; equally, the original dii ex machina were introduced precisely as non-human agencies.
1965: Edward Alfred Goerner, Peter and Caesar: The Catholic Church and Political Authority, page 189 (Herder and Herder)
Of course, there are those who question any natural teleology, who regard it as a deus ex machina. But the point here is that Murray and many others with him set up not one, but a whole olympus of dii ex machina without any Jovian thunderbolt to keep them in order.
1978: Robert Ignatius Burns, Moors and Crusaders in Mediterranean Spain: Collected Studies (reprints of sixteen articles which first appeared 1954–1977 in various publications), page xxxiv (Variorum Reprints); later quoted in:
1980: Institución Fernando el Católico, Jaime I y su época, vols. 1 & 2, page 331 (self-published; →ISBN, 9788400046231)
He leaches his story of almost everything except military action, so that a troubadour Mediterranean society as sophisticated as Dante’s seems instead to become the rough tribalism of the feudal north; townsmen, scholars, and merchants, the dynamic heart of his realms, dart in for brief appearances like dii ex machina.
For when a book is of absorbing interest without a single startling incident, without a murder, without even an elopement (except a very minor one mentioned in the first chapter), and deprived of the adventitious aids of railway accidents, shipwrecks, or other dii ex machina, we may be sure that there is much nature and much thought in it. Were there not it must infallibly be dull, and The Egoist is never dull.