Athenian Craftsman


Daedalus and Icarus by Andrea Sacchi

Daedalus and Icarus by Andrea Sacchi (ca. 1645)

Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain


Daedalus (meaning “Ingenious”) was a talented Athenian craftsman. At some point, he left Athens and came to the court of King Minos on Crete, where he designed the Labyrinth and other technological marvels (in some traditions, he was banished from Athens for murdering his nephew Perdix).

Daedalus eventually angered his powerful employer and was imprisoned along with his son Icarus. But the two escaped using wings designed by Daedalus himself. Icarus died when he flew too close to the sun and the wax of his makeshift wings melted, but Daedalus reached Sicily and continued his illustrious career there.

Daedalus was a popular figure in ancient literature and art. He has remained important as a symbol of the artist—inspiring, for example, the name Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916).[1]