The intelligence of Daedalus was known far and wide. He was accredited as the finest artificer ever, with a sharp and clever mind. Daedalus was living and working in Athens and he had a young apprentice in his workroom, his nephew, Talus. Talus was an extraordinarily talented boy and had begun showing traces of being a craftsman far surpassing his uncle's skill. As it is to the nature of man, Daedalus was highly envious of his nephew's proficiency. One day while on a visit to the Acropolis, Daedalus pushed him off the edge. Some say that the boy whom Daedalus had pushed off the edge of the Acropolis was not Talus but his sister's son Perdix, who was apprenticing to him. To stop Perdix from being dashed upon the ground below, the benevolent Goddess Athena transformed him into a bird that flew away to safety. Legend has it that this bird has since been known as the Partridge and wary of its tragic past avoids high places and nestles in hedges. Whoever was the victim, the artificer was put into trial by Areios Pagus, the supreme court of Athens, and charged with murder. His punishment was to get banished from Athens to the island of Crete.

Crete was ruled by King Minos and there, in his palace of Knossos, Daedalus found work as an architect. Years passed and he fell in love with Naucrate, a mistress-slave of the king and married her. They were blessed with a child whom they named Icarus. Life went on without incident until one fine day Minos called upon Daedalus. He wanted the architect to design and build an enclosure for the Minotaur, acreature with the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull. This monster in truth was the son of Pasiphae, Minos' wife, but not by the King. Years ago, following his ascension to the throne of Crete, there had been much squabbling amongst King Minos and his brothers. Minos had fervently prayed for a sign from Poseidon to assert his claim to the throne. The sea god, impressed with Minos' devotion, had sent him a snow-white bull as an omen that he should be ruler supreme. Overjoyed, Minos had vowed that he would sacrifice the bull to the sea god but consumed by avarice, he kept the bull for himself. Angered at Minos' disrespect and betrayal of trust, Poseidon avenged himself by cursing Pasiphae to fall in love with the bull.

Delirious with desire for the bull, Pasiphae asked Daedalus to construct for her a hollow wooden cow. Getting into the strange contraption, she made amorous advances towards the bull. Their bizarre union resulted in the birth of the Minotaur which was half-man, half-bull. Ashamed at his wife's deed, Minos wanted to hide the monster which was growing violent and gigantic day after day. For this reason, he asked Daedalus to build a labyrinth for the beast, a structure with many twists and turns where a person could get lost interminably. Such was the intricacy of the edifice that even Daedalus had a tough time finding his way out. In fact, Ovid makes worthy mentions of Daedalus in his works. In Metamorphoses, Ovid says that the labyrinth was constructed with such shrewdness that even the master-craftsman barely found his way out. The Minotaur was kept at the center of the labyrinth, hidden away from prying eyes. It had to be fed with young people and was the horror of Minos’ enemies and subjects.

Unfortunately for Daedalus, the King had imprisoned him and his young son, Icarus in a high tower, so that they couldn't reveal the secret of the labyrinth to anyone. Daedalus and Icarus were languishing in their prison atop the tower. Every day the master craftsman was pondering over their escape and how they could work such a miracle. He suddenly realized that their only escape route was by air since King Minos had control over every vessel that left the island. Moreover, Minos had issued strict orders to search thoroughly every ship leaving Crete. Instead of growing impassivity over their fate, Daedalus received a marvelous plan. He had observed the birds that were flying around the tower. He studied in great detail their mannerisms and hit upon his idea of how to escape.

For a large period of time, he was gathering all the feathers he could find lying around and joining them together with wax he fashioned two pairs of wings, one for himself and the other for his son. The day arrived when they were to execute their escape plan but Daedalus had a grave warning for his son. He forbade Icarus to fly too close to the sun for that would melt the wax, or to fly to close to the sea for that would dampen the feathers. Father and son both then perched on the edge of the tower parapet and leapt off. Flapping their wings furiously, they were able to emulate the birds and in no time, while flying over the sea, put great distance between themselves and Crete.

Unfortunately, Icarus soon forgot his father's warning and filled with the exhilaration of flying, he flew too high and too close to the sun. The intense heat melted the wax on the wings, the feathers came loose. A few minutes later, poor Icarus plummeted down into the sea and was drawn. Daedalus was struck with horror but there was nothing he could do to save his son. Aggrieved at his loss, he named the sea-spot where his son had drowned and the close by island after his name. The sea was named the Icarian Sea and the island was named Ikaria. Some sources mention that at the time Icarus fell into the sea, the mighty Hercules was passing by and he gave the fallen Icarus a befitting burial. Berating himself for his tragic loss, he continued to fly towards Sicily where he sought refuge in the Court of King Cocalus of Camicus. With the King's help, he constructed a temple dedicated to Apollo and as an offering to the god hung up his wings for good.

may 3 2017 ∞
may 3 2017 +