My fascination with Daedalus

I’m fascinated by Daedalus, the mythical inventor, architect sculptor from Greek mythology, and have been for some time. The name of my website and business are derived directly from him.

Sans+Icarus for me meant ‘without Icarus,’ Daedalus’ son who died as they were escaping from King Minos’ prison on Crete. The wax on the wings Daedalus built for their escape melted when Icarus flew too close to the sun. Entranced with flying, ignoring his father’s warnings, he plunged into the depths of the Mediterranean and drowned.

This story was a mantra for myself through some troubled times, encouraging me not to soar too high or fly too low, to keep me focused on the long game and moving towards where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be.

I spent a lot of reading time as a kid absorbing mythologies, particularly Anglo-European ones, and this cycle of Greek myths was always my favourite. It includes the stories of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur.

The main focus of Daedalus’s in the mythologies is three things that Daedalus constructed. The first two were at the request of others.

Poseidon – god of the sea, earthquakes and horses – had given a glorious white bull King Minos, so that it could be used in a sacrifice. But Minos coveted the bull and refused to kill it.

In response, Poseidon (with the help of Aphrodite – goddess of love, pleasure and procreation) caused Minos’ wife Pasiphaë to lust for the bull. Daedalus built a wooden frame so that Pasiphaë and the bull could mate, and the offspring from that union was the Minotaur.

Disgusted, King Minos ordered Daedalus to construct the famous impenetrable labyrinth to house the Minotaur. Minos then imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in a dungeon, to stop Daedalus telling anyone the secrets of the labyrinth.

To escape, Daedalus made two sets of wings from feathers and wax, and we’re now back to where our story began.

Besides what I talked about earlier – keeping that focus on the middle path through the highs and lows of life – for me this cycle of the Greek myths has other important things to say: about the dangers of greed, about women being blamed for and victims of the follies and wars of Men, and about doing work for others without thinking about the potential consequences.

As a story-teller myself, I’m fascinated by the meanings that can be derived from these mythologies – the fictional religions of our cultural ancestors – and how myths and other stories can be reshaped and re-purposed into something new.

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