Character in Greek mythology. His name means "cunning artificer." He was a famous and very talented architect and inventor. Jealous of his nephew Talus who appeared to be as talented as himself, Daedalus killed the young man and was soon exiled from Athens. He fled to Crete to work for the court of King Minos. There, Queen Pasiphae asked him to create an artificial cow so that she could have intercourse with a sacred bull (Cretans worhshipped bulls). He did and she did, and so she gave birth to a son that was half-man half-bull, also known as the Minotaur. Minos, upset at having such a monstrosity for a son, asked Daedalus to design the labyrinth to house the Minotaur. Some time after the labyrinth was built, Minos found out that Daedalus had been partly responsible for the conception of the Minotaur and confined Daedalus and his son Icarus to the labyrinth. Daedalus and Icarus eventually escaped from the labyrinth by making artificial wings out of feathers and wax. Icarus flew too high despite his father's advice, and fell into the sea when the wax holding his wings together melted from the sun's heat. Daedalus, on the other hand, made it to Sicily where he stayed for the rest of his life.
(Source: Don Gifford, Ulysses Annotated , University of California Press.)
Scattered and sundry sources describe supplementary additional details and variations of existent ones in the myth as described above. I shall be sharing the most clever, juicy and lurid ones.

Daedalus' ancestry is a matter of great discord. With the exception of possibly-paternal Palamaon (an otherwise un-noteworthy Athenian citizen) his three other sets of possible parents are all inter-related; it is generally agreed that both sides of his family originate at some point in the noble house of Cecrops, and most writers of antiquity come to consensus that Daedalus claimed descent from Erechtheus and his wife Praxithea - though they can't make up their mind as to whether this pair was his parents, grand-parents or great-grandparents. If grand-parents, his father may have been their son Metion (whose name meant "knowledgable") - but alternately, it may have been their daughter Merope instead who was his mother. Then again... Metion may have been his grandfather, with his son Eupalamus ("skillful" - these traits accumulate, not skipping generations it seems... until Icarus becomes too much of a wise guy for his own good) fathering Daedalus and his sister Perdix. (There's further disagreement - for instance, as to whether Eupalamus was Metion's son or Erechtheus' - but this paragraph is already by far too long and these matters aren't that interesting or important.)

Various inventions credited to this mythical Da Vinci-calibre genius include the folding chair, the compass, the axe, the awl, the bevel, sails, statues in naturalistic poses (with eyes open and arms and legs separated), painted / engraved images and of course the one that got him into trouble - the saw.

At some point in his early career as Athenian craftsman Daedalus took on his sister's son (Calos, Talos or Talus, depending on whose spelling mistake you trust more) as an apprentice. The lad was quite talented and was believed to have invented the saw - though Daedalus himself was inspired to fashion such a device as inspired either by a fish's spine or the jawbone of a snake. Either by "accident" or unabashedly "in a fit of professional jealousy" he murdered the boy, flinging him down from atop the Acropolis.

(Some writers claim that the boy - now named Perdix ("partridge") instead of his mother - is transformed by Athena into the bird and flutters to safety, but others provide the grim axe-inspiration allusion of Daedalus' remark when being caught red-handed interring the remains of his student, claiming that he wasn't up to any foul play - just "burying a snake.")

He leaves the city - either through voluntary exile or after being banished by the Areopagus. Seeking his fortune, he ends up at the palace of the powerful King Minos of Crete at Knossos - a bit of a dump, given the then-predominance of the Cretan civilization, but he sees the place as a unique fixer-upper opportunity.

While at the court of Minos he has a few moments of joy and innocent professional challenge - he meets, woos, marries and impregnates a female slave, Naucrate, who produces their ill-fated son Icarus; he also installs an intricate (later emulated by Hephaestus on the design of a shield for Achilles) discotheque (well, (bull-?)dance floor) for the king's daughter, Ariadne - but most of his time spent there revolves around complications stemming from the unpleasant business with that whole artificial cow-costume thing, an err in judgement that leads him to subsequent compounded unpleasantness - the union of Queen Pasiphae and Sacred Bull results in the monstrous Minotaur, for whom he's commissionned to fashion the labyrinth as a home and compound. Ariadne sweet-talks him into letting her know (and hottie Theseus through her) how to find one's way through the labyrinth - it involves leaving a trail of string behind you so you know where you've been - and that of course led to the imprisonment of Daedalus and son in a particularly elevated section of the labyrinth and their subsequent flight.

Minus one son, he lands in Camicus (or Inycus, according to Pausanias) in Sicily and goes into service for the king there, Cocalus. He settles in, glad to be puttering around making little devices and inventions with absolutely no connection to bulls or birds. He finds delight solving a puzzle-challenge sweeping the Mediterranean - threading the inside of a spiral conch shell by tying the string to an ant and sending it through in pursuit of a dab of honey on the other side. Almost the same method one might employ in solving an intricate maze...

When they announce they've solved the puzzle the authority running the contests comes in person to deliver the prize! Only problem is - the authority is King Minos, who devised the puzzle as a way to find his valuable proto-engineer, and the prize is a one-way trip back to Crete. Nuh-uh - been there, done that, lost the son. Cocalus and his daughters have grown quite attached to their new court handyman as well, and between them all they devise a way to keep him around. They invite smelly smelly Minos to have a bath before taking Daedalus back, employing another new invention of Daedalus - indoor plumbing! But with the daughters at the controls, the soothing bubble bath turns fatal! as the faucets belch forth boiling water and pitch, scalding the Cretan king all the way to his new post as a Judge of the Underworld.

The unpleasantness finally resolved for good, Daedalus thanks his hosts and sets off to find his wife Naucrate, whom Minos had sold back into slavery when he'd imprisoned her husband and son. Eventually in his travels he ends up joining Iolaus, Hercules' nephew/squire, and founds a colony in Sardinia where he dies.

Did he ever find Naucrate? The mythomological record is quiet on that front, though Socrates claimed descent from Daedalus - impossible with a drowned heir and no subsequent wife, excepting the possibilities that a) he produced a few bastards along the way, no doubt byproducts of unsuccessful contraceptive test-runs, or b) Socrates was a big fat liar.

Due to his singular prominence as the greatest mortal inventor in the Classical mythological canon and in homage to his glories and missteps Daedalus has been embraced as a patron spirit to the fields of aviation and engineering - author J.B.S. Haldane goes even further and in 1924's work Daedalus, or, Science and the Future declares him the patron saint as well of bioengineering and transhumanism.

Some of the classical texts including descriptions of or references to the story of Daedalus include Apollodorus' Library and Epitome; Diodorus Sicullus' The Library of History; Ovid's Metamorphoses; Pausanias' Description of Greece; Plato's Alcibiades, Euthyphro, Ion, Laws and Meno; and Virgil's Aeneid.

As well as being strangely misappropriated as the chief villain in the '60s cartoon The Mighty Hercules, Daedalus was also the name of a human-powered flying machine constructed in 1985 by engineers from MIT, a spindly 69-pound carbon-fiber-and-plastic apparatus powered by Greek cycling endurance and metabolic superman Kanellos Kanellopoulo and a gallon of a special liquid-calorie brew. Inspired by the myth, the man-machine pair successfully made the crossing from Crete to Santorini (74 miles - 30 feet; the spirit of Icarus seized the tail and snapped it in a crosswind just before the shore) in three hours, 54 minutes April 23rd, 1988, more than tripling the previous record for human-powered flight. (The flight of the original Daedalus is off-the-record and considered apocryphal by the scientific community 8)

The name has also been used on the design of an unmade atomic deep-space probe drawn up in 1970 by the British Astronomical Society, as James Joyce's literary alter-ego Stephen Dedalus in the semi-autobiographical Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses and even as the name of the team of elderly engineers in the recent flick Space Cowboys. Not a bad cultural legacy for someone who probably never existed.

The name of an AI in the computer game (and at the time of this writing, soon to me Playstation 2) Deus Ex (compare Deus Ex Machina for origin and Deus Absconditus for polarity). Daedalus is displayed as an odd looking, ghost like face with a black hat when viewed over the comlink. Daedalus also has a deep, somewhat raspy, synthesized voice that still manages to sound more human than computer (that's too be expected, the game is in the future).

There is a piece of the Daedalus AI running in every piece of surveilliance hardware on the planet, and taking into account the exponentially multiplying number of secret organizations, possibly off planet. This allows Daedalus to find almost anyone, anywhere, even without his other hacker/cracker (Which he could be largely depends on your viewpoint of the game and/or the definitions of those words) skills.

Daedalus first reveals himself to most players when they find themselves trapped inside the sub level 4 areas of UNATCO HQ. Stating that he needs the play to survive in order to complete his mission, he cuts of power to your detention cell for a small period of time in which you can escape.

The strategy guide, along with other various FAQs, reveal (although not always said in the game depending on who you talk to) that Daedalus was originally an AI created by the shadow organization, Majestic 12, a fork from the Illuminati. They created the AI for the purpose of having it merge with Bob Page, but the AI became independent and escaped their nets. After this, they began construction on the Icarus AI, which in a late area of the game merges with Daedalus (a trap). One of the game's possible endings features the main character, code name JC Denton, merging with the Helios/Daedalus AI.

See: Deus Ex Metanode (kudos to whoever softlinked it so I'd take notice)


An Athenian and a member of the royal family through his descent from Cecrops (Table 4), Daedalus was a skilled and versatile artist, being in turn architect, sculptor, and inventor of mechanical devices. In times of Antiquity he was credited with archaic works of art including some more mythical in character than real, such as the animated statues mentioned by Plato in his Menon. According to some legends, Daedalus' father was Eupalamus, and his mother was Alcippe; in others his father was Palaemon, or alternatively METION, grandson of Erechtheus.

Daedalus worked in Athens, where his nephew Talos, son of his sister Perdix, was his pupil. Talos proved so talented that Daedalus became jealous, and when Talos, drawing his inspiration from the jaw-bone of a serpent, invented the saw, Daedalus threw him from the top of the Acropolis. The murder was discovered, and Daedalus was arraigned before the Areopagus, found guilty, and sentenced to exile. He fled to Crete, where he became architect and resident sculptor at the court of King Minos.

When Minos' wife PASIPHAE became enamoured of a bull, Daedalus constructed a wooden cow for her. He also built the Labyrinth of Minos - a palace with a maze of corridors in which the Minotaur was confined - and then in due course suggested to Ariadne the trick which saved Theseus when he went to fight the Minotaur. Theseus was to take a ball of thread, which he would unroll as he made his way into the Labyrinth so that he would be able to find his way back along the same route. When Minos learnt of Theseus' success, and the trick he had used to achieve it, he imprisoned Daedalus in the Labyrinth, at Theseus' accomplice, together with his son ICARUS (whom Daedalus had fathered on a palace slave named Naecrate). But Daedalus made wings for himself and his son, which he attached with wax, and they both flew off. Daedalus reached Cumae safe and sound.

Minos hunted him in every country while he lay in hiding at Camicos in Sicily, under the protection of King Cocalus (for the ruse by which Minos discovered Daedalus' hiding-place, see COCALUS). Once Minos had been killed by King Cacalus' daughters, Daedalus showed his gratitude to his host by erecting many buildings.


As Daedalus was, occording to mythology, the first man to fly, his name has been linked to flying organizations around the world. Some early aerodromes in Britain were named after him, most notably RNAS Daedalus at Cranwell in Lincolnshire, which evolved to become the Royal Air Force College. The largest Officers' Mess in the Royal Air Force, located on the site of one of the old airship huts, is entitled Daedalus Officers' Mess, and preserves the link with both the legend and history of the name Daedalus.

Needless to say, his erstwhile and unfortunate son Icarus (the first man to suffer an air proximity accident - with the Sun) is not such a popular choice for Air Forces, since he died out of his own ignorance.

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