98. Daedalus murders Perdix

Once upon a time, the sister of Daedalus brought her dear son Perdix to Daedalus, so that Daedalus may take him as his pupil and instruct him in the mechanical arts. Daedalus sincerely taught his nephew, who as the years went by, gained in skill and ingenuity.

Perdix invented the potter’s wheel and the chisel. Observing the jagged spine of a fish, he notched the edge of a piece of iron and thereby, invented the saw, which helped in cutting wood. He also invented compasses, by taking two iron pieces, joining them at one end with a rivet, and sharpening the other ends.

Daedalus noticed that his nephew was highly gifted. Instead of rejoicing at having such a gifted pupil, Daedalus suffered pangs of professional jealousy, as he feared that Perdix may outshine him. Therefore, when both of them were at the temple of Athena on the Acropolis, Daedalus caught Perdix and threw him headlong from the high cliff. Then he spread a rumor that Perdix had accidentally fallen to his death. The Areiopagus tried Daedalus for this crime and Daedalus was banished from Athens.

Daedalus went to King Minos of Crete, who warmly welcomed him. Settling in Crete, Daedalus made several inventions, including the hollow wooden cow made for Pasiphae, and the maze known as Labyrinth at Cnossus, where the monster Minotaurus was kept.

However, Athena, goddess of ingenious men, had saved Perdix by changing him to a bird, before he could crash on the ground. In midair, while Perdix was falling, his fall was arrested and he flew on feathered wings. His active mind and his genius were absorbed in his feet and wings. His name was retained and the bird was called as the Perdix, also known as the Partridge. Remembering its former fall, the partridge does not fly high and avoids high places. It also does not build its nests in leafy trees, but nestles in the twigs of bushes and hedges.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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