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Sam Roberts wrote:

But wait... looking a lua.c, I see that it appears to be
using "=" as a short hand for "put return at the start of
this line".

Yep.  If you don't want the user to have to type "=" or
"return ", and you also want them to be able to type
statements or blocks of statements as well as expressions, a
trick for doing this without needing to parse the user's
input is briefly described at