The myth of Daedalus and Icarus


Daedalus was a Greek craftsman and an engineer who invented the first dance floor, the first bathhouse, carpentry and all the tools and the legendary labyrinth of Crete. His sculptures were so realistic that Hercules accidentally started to fight with one, thinking that it was real.  Daedalus was a descendant of Erectheus, the legendary hero and King of Athens. Daedalus’ mother Alcippe was also of noble lineage, a descendant of Cecrops, the mythical founder of the city of Athens. He had two sons, Icarus and Lapyx, and a nephew called Talos.

Daedalus and Talos

The biggest flaw of Daedalus was his jealousy and ego. He witnessed that the son of his sister, who came to learn mechanical arts from him had a greater potential which almost surpassed his fame as he invented the saw by imitating the skeleton of a fish and compass by putting two pieces of iron together. One day Daedalus tricked his nephew to go to Arcopolis and pushed him off a mountain. The goddess Athena turned the boy who was falling to his death into a Partridge, a bird who mostly dwell on the ground. It is said that even in the present day, the bird nests on hedges and doesn’t fly far into the sky for its fear of heights.

Daedalus and King Minos

The great engineer was then put in to trial by the supreme court of Athens, and banished out of the city once found guilty. He then traveled to Crete, an island which is ruled by king Minos, who was helped by Poseidon, the god of sea to be the king by proving he is better than his brothers. Thus, Poseidon had sent Minos a pure white bull so that others would realize he won the favour of the gods. Even though Minos promised that he would sacrifice the white bull back to Poseidon soon after he becomes the king of Crete. yet, overwhelmed by greed, he only sacrifices a different one.  Embarrassed by the act, Poseidon asks Aphrodite to make the wife of king Minos, Pasiphaë to fall in love with the white bull. Being seduced under the curse, Pasiphaë asks Daedalus to help her have sex with it. As it is a chance to show his talent, he makes a hollow wooden cow, that fools the bull and it impregnates her. Ultimately, She gives birth to Minotaur, a creature which is half human half bull.

Minotaur, Labyrinth, and Theseus

Ashamed by the taboo, king Minos asks Daedalus to build a labyrinth to imprison Minotaur. The imprisoned beast had to fed frequently with live human sacrifices, and one day the son of the king of Athens, Theseus volunteers to sacrifice himself the raging Minotaur. Seeing his bravery and handsomeness, the daughter of king Minos, Ariadne falls in love with him. Daedalus helps Theseus by giving him a thread to find the way out of the labyrinth.

Daedalus and Icarus Escapes Crete

Being furious, King Minos imprisons Daedalus and his son Icarus in the maze. They find their way out as they were the ones who built it, but fails to escape the island across the sea, as all ships were controlled by the king. Daedalus makes two pairs of wings out of wax and the feathers of seagulls. He advices his son not to fly closer to the sea so the sea would damp the wings, nor to fly closer to the sun so the heat would melt the wax and disintegrate the wings.

Fall of Icarus

Unfortunately, overwhelmed by the newly gained freedom and by the power of flight which simulated himself to a god, Icarus forgot the warnings of his father and flew higher and higher. Wax melts, wings shatter, Icarus falls from the sky and dies, leaving Daedalus in agony. Later the washed up body is said to have dragged ashore by Hercules, and the Island is named Icaria in honour of the fallen youth. It can still be found in the map.