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This article is within the scope of WikiProject Middle-earth, which aims to build an encyclopedic guide to J. R. R. Tolkien, his legendarium, and related topics. Please visit the project talk page for suggestions and ideas on how you can improve this and other articles.

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There should be a discussion on the religious implications of this word. Tolkien was very clear that this word was religious in nature as well. TedTschopp (talk) 14:51, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Coined by Tolkien?[edit]

Someone with better Greek than mine needs to clarify this, and online references for Tolkien's essay(?) on the word's origin would help, but the LSJ Greek-English lexicon lists εὐκατά-στροφος - i.e., eukatastrophos - as meaning 'brought to a good conclusion, well-turned'. This makes it sounds like Tolkien only resurrected or appropriated the term.

Also the noteworthiness of an article on a Greek term adopted by Tolkien for an extant literary phenomenon is questionable, unless it can be shown to have remained in use. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:19, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

To unsigned: I am fairly certain that a certain level of importance may be attributed to this article for two reasons:

1. The literary phenomenon itself is both significant, historically and at the present. It can be found in many significant works of literature, and this is not the invention of Tolkien; this is a fact. Since there is no alternate word for this phenomenon, we shall have to be content with Tolkien's.

2. Tolkien is an extremely significant author in 20th century literature, due to his widespread influence on almost all modern fantasy in practically every artistic medium, including literature, filmography, comic books, and more. Besides this, the collective thinking of him and other authors who were part of Oxford university's "Inklings" literary group have significantly affected Christian perspective on literature, and have inspired the approach of many Christian writers since.

Given his literary related significance, combined with his varifiably authoritative and significant opinions (being alternatively professor of anglo-saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, and professor of English at Merton College, Oxford, and appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II), it follows that his ideas of a largespread literary phenomenon bear enough weight to write about on Wikipedia.

Anyways, that's my opinion. --5176shutt (talk) 05:21, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Gk εὐκατάστροφος is a term apparently coined by the author of De Elocutione (quoted by LSJ), and refers to a succession of kwla and kommata being 'well-turned', that is, 'brought to a good conclusion' which is what constitutes a period. It is an adjective meaning "having a good καταστροφή", where καταστροφή has its more basic sense "end, close, conclusion" (LSJ), from which the meaning "dénouement, ending" of tragedy theory is derived (and so "ruin, undoing"). So, no Gk. noun *εὐκαταστροφή is attested or implied. In fact, the adjective εὐκατάστροφος is deduced by LSJ; the text only has εὐκαταστρόφως, which is the derived adverb (though a later hand corrected it to εὐκαταστρόφων in the ms.) The adjective is actually attested in Eustathius' commentary to Iliad XVII.59 (not in LSJ), but there εὐκατάστροφοι has a physical sense: Eustathius is talking about an olive tree that can be uprooted by turning it. In any case, these sources are irrelevant for Tolkien's use of 'eucatastrophe', which is based on the term as known from drama theory, and it's very unlikely that he was even aware of them.

As to the relevance of this page, let me add to the points 5176shutt has made that the OED has recently included 'eucatastrophe', defined thus: "Especially in a fictional narrative: a (sudden or unexpected) favourable turn of events; especially a resolution of this type; a happy ending". Tirachinas (talk) 00:16, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Eagles as Eucatastrophe[edit]

The Eagles are also textbook examples of eucatastrophe-nearly every appearance of them results in a sudden and unexpected rescue, whether in the Silmarillion, Hobbit, or Lord of the Rings. Given this, and that the Eagles(Middle-Earth) page links to eucatastrophe, I have added a line including them under Examples in Tolkien's Work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blindwithstars (talkcontribs) 00:43, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Traditional deus ex machina = eucatastrophe?[edit]

So does this mean that examples of deus ex machina in ancient Greek theatre should be classified as eucatastrophe? In modern works, if a god suddenly drops out of the sky and starts interfering it's generally regarded as an author's saving throw. But in Ancient Greece there was an expectation that gods *did* regularly do that. So does that mean the modern usage of deus ex machine no longer applies to it and eucatastrophe is a more accurate description? --Irrevenant [ talk ] 01:04, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

It's questionable whether Tolkien can make extant definitions and terms undone, simply because he doesn't want them applied to his work because of their negative connotations. Which appears to me the only reason why he would coin Eucatastrophe. After all, Eucatastrophe sounds like "Deus ex machina without the negative connotation". (talk) 14:03, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I've deleted this whole section, which appears to be someone's own thesis. Mangoe (talk) 15:37, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Deus ex Machina (again)[edit]

We've been through this before, that eucastrophe is linked to deus ex machina has been established by reliable sources, removing it because you do not agree with it is not acceptable GimliDotNet (Speak to me,Stuff I've done) 18:20, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

No reliable and credible source has been given, especially given that it does not match Tolkien's own usage of the term. We are talking about a term Tolkien coined, right? I mean... that seems to me that he gets to define it. The source used points to the destruction of the Ring as a eucatastrophe and a deus ex machina. It is the former, but not the latter. The method of its destruction is foreshadowed since the second chapter of the book. We have this just a few pages before Gollum's fall occurs: "'Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.'" Given that Gollum's fall is foreshadowed, it cannot be a deus ex machina. However, it still meets Tolkien's criteria of a eucatastrophe. Gódhellim (talk) 18:59, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Tolkien may have coined the term, but he does not own it, and as the source given links the two it stays, regardless of the fact that you don't like it.
Tolkien defined the term, and the source provided does not match his definition. I don't like it in the same sense that I would not like an article informing people that "1+1=7." This isn't an opinion to disagree on, it is a black and white fact. The source is wrong, its presence makes the article worse. Gódhellim (talk) 20:22, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Since you're so set on this source being included, I'm willing to come to a compromise. Include a section which states something like "In the eyes of some, eucatastrophe is a type of deus ex machina... However, this does not match Tolkien's usage of the term given that eucatastrophe could occur independent of the presence of dei ex machina." I would object to anything which states that the destruction of the Ring in The Lord of the Rings is an example of something which is both a deus ex machina and a eucatastrophe, given that it very plainly is not a deus ex machina. Gódhellim (talk) 19:44, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

In an attempt to halt the ongoing edit war without having to block anyone, please let me introduce a few reliable sources pro and contra the equation "deus ex machina = eucatastrophe". Here is what Google Books returns at a quick glance:

  • "Eucatastrophe is not synonymous with deus ex machina..." E. M. Mazur (ed.): Encyclopedia of Religion and Film [1]
  • "In Tolkien's terms, a eucatastrophe is something highly improbable and perhaps even impossible within the secondary world of the text itself. Tolkien insists, the ending arises precisely as a 'sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur'. ... There may seem to be a price to be paid for this ... as what ... can only be construed as a Deus ex machina is summoned to secure the conclusion. ...and Tolkien's eucatastrophic ending is compelled to break the pattern of the tale open precisely in order to redeeem it." Trevor Hart: Between the Image and the Word: Theological Engagements with Imagination, Language and Literature [2]
  • "The eucatastrophe discussed by J. R. R. Tolkien in On Fairy Stories... occurs in War in Heaven through the person of Prester John... At the same time, Prester John's appearance has nothing of the deus ex machina about it; ..." Frank Northen Magill: Survey of modern fantasy literature [3]

De728631 (talk) 23:07, 7 September 2014 (UTC)


This page mentions that the -eu- preceding Catastrophe is the addition of the term for -good-. I wonder though, since Euripides was associated with early Deus Ex Machina tropes, if it might be possible that Tolkien meant this as an abbreviation of the man`s name too. --Ranze (talk) 12:38, 29 October 2014 (UTC)