Why do we say "It's in the lap of the gods.

Well-Known Expressions

It's in the lap of the gods

Meaning:

It's beyond human control

Background:

From Homer's Illiad (8th century BC), although not all versions translate as "in the lap of the gods". For example this version by Samuel Butler (1898).

On this he [Aneas] cried out to the two Ajaxes and Menelaus, "Ajaxes
captains of the Argives, and Menelaus, give the dead body over to
them that are best able to defend it, and come to the rescue of
us living; for Hector and Aeneas who are the two best men among
the Trojans, are pressing us hard in the full tide of war.
Nevertheless the issue lies on the lap of heaven, I will
therefore hurl my spear and leave the rest to Jove."

Other variations from the 18th and 19th centuries include:

"But all these things rest upon the knees of the gods." - Theodore Alois Buckley (1873)

"Yet verily these issues lie in the lap of the gods." Andrew Lang, M.A., Walter Leaf, Litt.D., And Ernest Myers, M.A. (1891)

"Yet is the issue in the hands of Heav'n." - Edward Earl of Derby (1864)

"That lies in the laps of the gods." - Butcher and Lang (1909)

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Islamic Enlightenment
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Leavers
    The Leavers
    by Lisa Ko
    The day before Deming Guo saw his mother for the last time, she surprised him at school. A navy blue...
  • Book Jacket: Wonderful Feels Like This
    Wonderful Feels Like This
    by Sara Lovestam
    High school is hard; or perhaps, more accurately, growing up and finding oneself is hard. This is ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Scribe of Siena
    by Melodie Winawer

    Equal parts transporting love story, meticulously researched historical fiction, and compelling time-travel narrative.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Chalk Pit

The Chalk Pit:
A Ruth Galloway Mystery

A string of murders takes Ruth underground in the newest book in the series.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T W Don't M A R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -