99. Daedalus and Icarus

Once upon a time, King Minos of Crete, imprisoned Daedalus in a solitary tower, for making a hollow wooden cow for his queen Pasiphae. The trapped Daedalus, finding no means of escape through land or sea, thought of escaping through the air. He thought deeply and resolved to make mechanical wings, which would enable him to fly and escape from Crete. Deftly, he fashioned feathers of different sizes, glued them together with pliant wax, in such a manner that the mechanical wings, resembled the natural wings of birds. Then he tried to fly with those wings and after few failed attempts, finally he succeeded.

Daedalus made two sets of wings, one for his beloved son Icarus and the other for himself. Strapping the wings on his dear son, he instructed Icarus to fly in the middle, neither low nor high. If he flew low, then the moisture from the ocean spray would wet the feathers making them very heavy, and unfit for flying. If he flew high, then the heat from the sun’s rays would melt the wax holding the feathers, making the feathers to fall apart. After Icarus had understood his instructions, they ventured in the air with the ease of birds and escaped from Crete.

They flew past the isles of Samos, Delos, Paros, Lebinthus, and Calymne. But Icarus became ambitious with his flying and he soared higher. The sun’s scorching heat melted the wax and the feathers came apart. Icarus fell to his death in the sea, which was named after him as the Icarian Sea. Daedalus turned around and called for his son, but could only see the dismantled feathers floating on the sea. Then he found the body of dead Icarus on the shores of an island, which was named as Icaria.

Amidst tears, Daedalus buried his son, while from an oak nearby, a lively partridge whistled in deviant delight, making Daedalus remember how he had murdered his nephew Perdix. Afterwards, the weary Daedalus arrived at Sicily, where King Cocalus granted him protection.

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

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