Imprisoned within the walls of his own masterpiece, lived legend’s unrivaled craftsman. His skills were second to none, incomparable between all his other peers, not even one form of architectural machinery at the moment could surpass his grandiosity. However, this man had to live such a paradoxical life despite all he could have achieved. This is a story about how pride and intelligence, when combined, become a deadly act of sin.
During his younger and jolly days in Athens, Daedalus had a reputation from such an early age on his brilliant craftsmanship. He didn’t come from a reign of kings nor a legacy of noble families. He lived the average life of a young man during the Romanticism era, with an outstandingly gifted talent. Every statue he built looked lifelike, every machinery he created made all architect’s day less scrutinizing, every building he assembled was undoubtedly monumental. Everybody knew his name, everybody wanted him to build the houses of their dreams. Daedalus was having the time of his life, boasting on every architectural grandness he built. Safe to say, his arrogance and pride took the best of him… to the point of murder.
His spotlight was about to be taken away by his very own nephew, Perdix. Now Perdix, though younger in age, was definitely supposed to outshine Daedalus at every aspect. People started to drift their attention away from his crafts to Perdix’s masterpieces. Daedalus grew furthermore with jealousy and fear of losing his fame when the young fellow came up to him ask for counsel on his new and brilliant machinery, a saw (note: this was thousands of years back, a saw was like the new iPhone for them). They were on top of the Acropolis hill, so Daedalus took advantage of those steep cliffs and pushed away his nephew down with no mercy.
This man wasn’t born to be a murderer and it became even more apparent when guilt got the best of him. Not long after, Daedalus wept over Perdix’s death and decided to give the dead boy a proper grave. Just as he started to dig, a few locals spotted him and the bloodshed he made. Despite all that he has built for Athens, he was exiled for his unjustifiable act.
The skillful craftsman decided to move to Athens’ biggest rival, the island of Crete ruled by King Minos. A little back story, Europa, the king’s mother was lured by Zeus into loving him in the form of a bull. Hence why owing to the fact that his father was technically a bull, his people and other kings never took him seriously despite the fact that he sits on the thrown. Having his rival’s best and foremost craftsman on his hands, he saw this as an opportunity to build something that will settle all the jokes and scornful names once and for all.
Minos welcomed the exiled man as if he was a clean man with no murder history. He made sure the poor fellow got all the food, clothes, rest and warmth Daedalus needed to prepare him for what has come to be his ultimate masterpiece. He eventually found love in Crete and had a son known as Icarus. During the brainstorming process, King Minos and his wife Pasiphae finally had a son after years of effort. Yet sadly, it was a definitely heartbreaking experience. King Minos had a son who turned out to be one hell of an angry bull, known as Asterion the Minotaur. A staggering wave of scornful names his people called on him more and more. He investigated what caused this blasphemy and heard stories saying that Daedalus played a part in this. Oh… King Minos was raging with angst.
Fear of yet another exile, Daedalus quickly confronted the furious king with the result of his brainstorming moments. “A labyrinth my king! I will build you an arena to trap those who dare call you names or stand against you, all your enemies will tremble when they hear your name” he said and this peaked King Minos’ interest. “Since news about your son Asterion the Minotaur has spread across the seas, we can use this opportunity to embrace his monstrousness! We place him inside the labyrinth hungry and beasty… together with the people you punish. You promise them that if they can make it out, they will leave a free man. But I will stay in the labyrinth to make sure that no one finds the way out and that Asterion acquires his daily meal.” The King loved this idea, he also considered this as a punishment for what he thinks of Daedalus’ treachery.
Everything went as planned. After years and years of building, the labyrinth stood majestically tall and wide. Asterion also grew into a bloodthirst bull. Although he was a prince, they treated him like an animal to prepare for his never ending feasts in the labyrinth. Slowly, King Minos started throwing people inside. Every day, Daedalus worked his butt off, motioning between pathways every time the punished almost made it to their escape. The only sunshine of his life happens once a week, which is when Icarus comes to visit him at the workshop.
As time goes by, the more impossible it is to penetrate the labyrinth Daedalus built. Not only did King Minos threw people in there as a punishment, but he also held annual competitions for those who dare enter and make money out of all the bets and gambles people were making. Warriors from all around the country came to Crete in the hope of being the first person alive to survive both the labyrinth and the Minotaur. Still, nobody succeeded until a handsome young fellow by the name Theseus managed to savagely crush the skull of the monstrous half human – half beast and outsmarted Daedalus, the architect of the labyrinth himself.
Now that there is nothing to fear no more for those who disliked the ruler of Crete, the irritating scornful names started crawling back to King Minos’ ears again. Feeling ashamed and fiery at the same time, the king decided to blame it all on Daedalus for not keeping his promise of making sure no one makes it out alive. Death was his final punishment for the man who basically gave his life into blocking passageways with only once a week visits from his only son.
In the midst of working, Icarus came in his father’s hidden workshop in the labyrinth out of the usual routine. Being quick-witted, he knew this is a sign that the king was ready to execute both him and his son in correlation with Theseus’ successful attempt and triumph. “Quick son! Help me glue all these feathers together. We need to escape as soon as possible!”. Daedalus moved his hands like a whirlwind, crafting what we now call ‘wings’, to help them fly out of the labyrinth.
The father and son were just in time as the guards knocked the doors down, they both jumped out the window and flapped their freshly constructed wings as fast as they could. It was marvelous how the wings worked and flew them out to their escape. “Son!” Daedalus cried out to Icarus “remember to not fly too close to the sun. It’s will quickly melt the glue and it will no longer be able to keep the feathers intact!”. “Okay dad!” he shouted in response. But Icarus was loving this experience. Perhaps, he loved it too much.
Icarus gazed towards the sun and was captured by how magnificent it is, with its bright tangerine color shining from up above. Icarus started to unconsciously flap his wings faster to get closer to what he perceived as beauty. “Son stop!” Daedalus yelled but this time Icarus’ mind was filled with awe. “Stop!” Daedalus yelled again as he saw a few feathers flying off the wings. All of a sudden, the flap of the wings couldn’t bear the weight Icarus’ body, “Dad help!” he shouted. “Icarus no!!” Daedalus yelled in tears as he experienced the last seconds of him and his one and only son. He saw Icarus plummet to his death and no amount of tears, no form of melancholic melody, and no language in the world could emphasize the way Daedalus felt.
People say that Icarus’ catastrophe is the long lost retribution towards Daedalus’ past, in which he committed an act of murder due to his pride and fame. In ancient Greek culture, being prideful is considered ‘acting like a god’ or familiarly known as hubris. The gods take this matter seriously, and will severely punish mortals who perceive themselves more than what they are. Daedalus definitely fulfilled the requirements of this punishment back in his glory days, and the gods decided to eliminate the last and only spark of his life, his son Icarus.
Not long after all the blasphemy Daedalus went through, with all the escaping away and having to witness his son’s death, he met his doom as well. King Minos’ men managed to locate him in a city called Sicily and murdered him then and there.
If only Daedalus didn’t let his grandiosity take the best out of him, how would you imagine today’s buildings and infrastructure could have been like? I guess it’s time for me to leave it to your own imagination.
(Words by: Amanda Celine E.)