Daedalus was an Athenian exile, inventor and master craftsman. Daedalus is mostly known for being the designer and creator of the great Cretan Labyrinth.
Even though there are a couple of stories with Daedalus as a key figure, the most notable is the Minotaur and the Labyrinth in Crete. The story for Daedalus in this great mythical tale begins with him escaping Athens to hide the actions of his past. Daedalus in this particular story wasn’t the most honourable man you could meet. The reason why he escaped Athens was because of the consequences of his uncontrollable jealousy. This jealousy which lead him to committing the horrible crime of murdering his own nephew, Talus, just because he proved to be in some ways a superior craftsman than Daedalus.
The Minotaur and the Labyrinth
So it all begins in Crete. after living there for quite some time, he entered the service of King Minos. Daedalus was approached by the wife of the king, Pasiphaë, who had been cursed with zoophilia by Poseidon for the actions of her husband Minos. She confided her secret passion for the bull to Daedalus and asked of him to construct a hollow wooden cow, so that she could copulate with the divine, white bull. These bizarre series of events gave birth to the half-man and half-bull, a beast, the Minotaur.
As soon as the King found out about the Minotaur, he was terrified of the consequences of the rest of world knowing about this wretched beast, so he had to find a way to keep it away. He ordered Daedalus to design and create a Labyrinth in which the Minotaur was to be kept isolated from the rest of the world.
Escape from Crete
After completing the Labyrinth, Daedalus was imprisoned by King Minos, for the very same reason the labyrint was built. To keep it a secret. But keeping a inventive and intelligent man like Daedalus as prisoner proved to be more challenging than the King had thought. Aware of the fact that the fleet of Minos surrounding Crete was inescapable, Daedalus decided to create wings from the feathers of birds and of wax, and he managed to fly away and escape from Crete with his son, Icarus. After instructing his son that he shouldn’t fly to near to the sun, because it would melt the wax that kept the wings together, which would render the wings useless. Icarus ignored the words of his father and fell into the sea and drowned there.
The word, daedalian, meaning tortuous, creative, and cunning, perpetuates the name and set of skills of the legendary Athenian craftsman Daedalus.
Minos sailed against Athens with a fleet, not believing that the Athenians were innocent of the death of Androgeos [killed by the Marathonian Bull], and sorely harassed them until it was agreed that he should take seven maidens and seven boys for the Minotauros that was said to dwell in the Labyrinth at Knossos.
Pausanias in the Description of Greece
Morals in the Myth
We all know that our choices have consequences. No matter how small, our actions always echo back at or around us. Daedalus making that choice of designing the maze which in turn became the location for unbelievable atrocities. And it was just that, a choice. If Daedalus didn’t create the Labyrinth, perhaps those poor yearly tributes from Athens, wouldn’t end up as dinner for the Minotaur. What do you think would happen if Daedalus refused to create the Labyrinth for King Minos. After all it was said that Daedalus was one of the most creative craftsmen around. Finding a replacement to create the maze wouldn’t be a easy task for the King of Crete.
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s also currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.