Daedalus

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In Greek mythology, Daedalus (Latin, also Hellenized Latin Daedalos, Greek Daidalos (Δαίδαλος) meaning "cunning worker", and Etruscan Taitale) was a skillful craftsman and artisan.[1] His father was either Metion[2], Eupalamus[3][4] or Palamaon[5], and his mother was either Alcippe[6], Iphinoe[7] or Phrasimede[8]. Daedalus had two sons: Icarus[9] and Iapyx[10], along with a nephew, whose name is Perdix. He is first mentioned by Homer as the creator of a wide dancing-ground for Ariadne.[11] He also created the Labyrinth on Crete, in which the Minotaur (part man, part bull) was kept. In the story of the labyrinth Hellenes told, the Athenian hero Theseus is challenged to kill the Minotaur, finding his way with the help of Ariadne's thread. Daedalus' appearance in Homer is in an extended simile, "plainly not Homer's invention," Robin Lane Fox observes: "he is a point of comparison and so he belongs in stories which Homer's audience already recognized." [12] In Bronze Age Crete, an inscription da-da-re-jo-de has been read as referring to a place at Knossos,[13] and a place of worship.[14]

In Homer's language, objects which are daidala are finely crafted. They are mostly objects of armour, but fine bowls and furnishings are daidala, and on one occasion so are the "bronze-working" of "clasps, twisted brooches, earrings and necklaces" made by Hephaestus while cared for in secret by the goddesses of the sea.[15]

Ignoring Homer, later writers envisaged the labyrinth as an edifice rather than a single dancing path to the center and out again, and gave it numberless winding passages and turns that opened into one another, seeming to have neither beginning nor end.[16] Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, suggests that Daedalus constructed the Labyrinth so cunningly that he himself could barely escape it after he built it.[17] Daedalus built the labyrinth for King Minos, who needed it to imprison his wife's son the Minotaur. The story is told that Poseidon had given a white bull to Minos so that he might use it as a sacrifice. Instead, Minos kept it for himself; and in revenge, Poseidon made his wife Pasiphaë lust for the bull.[18] For Pasiphaë, as Greek mythologers interpreted it, Daedalus also built a wooden cow so she could mate with the bull, for the Greeks imagined the Minoan bull of the sun to be an actual, earthly bull. Another interpretation equates the wooden cow with metaphorical human folly. Though divinely inspired, a well-meaning and loyal, yet fallible man contrived a human mechanism that facilitated the creation of a proverbial monster. The Minotaur abomination that devoured men for sustenance. The slaying of which later required a heroic effort by Theseus. As in the tale of Icarus' wings, Daedalus is portrayed assisting in the creation of something that has subsequent negative consequences. In this case the monstrous Minotaur and its almost impenetrable lair, the labyrinth; which in turn made slaying the beast an endeavour of legendary difficulty. Thus, the concept of humility is introduced to the legend of Daedalus by the great craftsman's mistakes. The Daedalean labyrinth was defeated by a simple ball of thread that its architect had failed to consider, just as he failed to foresee the melting of the wax in Icarus' wings. The legend of Daedalus further encourages others to consider the long-term consequences of their own inventions with great care, lest they do more harm than good.

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