Why do we say "In the lap of the gods"?

Well-Known Expressions

In the lap of the gods

Meaning:

Beyond human control

Background:

This phrase is first recorded in Homer's Iliad:

Then to him, unterrified, said Hector of the glancing helm: "Son of Peleus, think not with words to affright me as a child since I too know myself how to speak taunts and unjust speech. And I know that thou art a man of might, and far better man than I. Yet doth this issue lie in the lap of the gods, whether I though weaker shall take thy life with my hurled spear, for mine too hath been found keen ere now."

(from the 1922 Andrew Lang, Water Leaf & Ernest Myers translation of the Ilead of Homer)

Apparently 'lap of the gods' can also be translated 'knees of the gods' which doesn't quite have the same ring about it!

Alphabetical list of expressions

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