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Research Papers

“Deus-Ex-Machina” Mechanism Reconstruction in the Theater of Phlius, Corinthia

[+] Author and Article Information
Argyris S. Papadogiannis

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, University of Patras, 265 00 Patras, Greecepapadogiannisgr@yahoo.gr

Marilena C. Tsakoumaki

 Business Kings College London Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UKmtsakoumaki@hotmail.com

Thomas G. Chondros

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, University of Patras, 265 00 Patras, Greecechondros@mech.upatras.gr

J. Mech. Des 132(1), 011001 (Dec 09, 2009) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4000530 History: Received October 31, 2008; Revised October 15, 2009; Published December 09, 2009; Online December 09, 2009

In some ancient Greek drama plays, the stage machine used to bring the gods or the heroes of the tragedy on stage, known with the Latin term deus-ex-machina, was used for the solution of an apparently insoluble crisis. A twin-facing stone base was found in the theater of Phlius in Corinthia, Greece, behind the stage building. The existence of similar foundations in other ancient theaters indicates their use for specific purposes connected with the needs of the play. An attempt to reconstruct the mechanism is presented based on archeological evidence and literary descriptions. The reconstructed mechanism was designed for path generation and comprised a single beam with ropes controlling its planar motion and a sidle twin lifting system.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Plan of the Athens theater in the 5th century B.C . (7)

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Figure 2

Sharpedon, son of Europa, carried through the air by Sleep (Ypnos) and Death (Thanatos), most probably from Aeschylos’ Europa

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Figure 3

A vase painting of a scene from Euripides’ Medea

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Figure 4

Painting from a Phlyakes vase shows Zeus threatening Apollon with the thunderbolt and the club, probably in the comedy Heracles of Rhinthon

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Figure 5

The mechanism reconstruction of the Athens theater

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Figure 6

Plan of the Phlius theater in the 1st century B.C. (22). The pair of stone foundations is indicated by the arrow. Caution: the arrow has to be put to its final location by left-click selecting and moving in place.

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Figure 7

The east foundation from northeast in situ, and stone foundations with iron clamp (isometric), from Refs. 21-22

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Figure 8

3D sketch of the skene with the mechanism at the ancient theater of Phlius. Principle of operation. Side view

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Figure 9

The mechanism in operation position, back view

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Figure 10

The mechanism in its resting position, hidden behind the skene

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Figure 11

A monokolos and a trikolos crane with compound pulleys systems as used by the Romans (14,30)

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Figure 12

Forces acting on the beam

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Figure 13

Beam lower modes of vibration, first mode: 0 Hz, second mode: 13.54 Hz, and third mode: 36.88 Hz

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Figure 14

The fixed block (guide) at the free end of the beam (a), and the running block used to support the hook (b) (37)

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Figure 15

Top view and cross section of the ground winch and the stone foundation with the fixed block for raising the load

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Figure 16

The hook attached to the running block 9 and the stress distribution on cross section A-A

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