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!

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