In Greek mythology, Daedalus /di:dəlɪs/ or /dɛdəlɪs/ (Ancient Greek: Δαίδαλος or Daedalos, meaning "clever worker"; Latin: Daedalus; Etruscan: Taitale) was a skillful craftsman and artist.[1][2] He is the father of Icarus, the uncle of Perdix and possibly also the father of Iapyx although this is unclear.


Such anecdotal details as these were embroideries upon the reputation of Daedalus as an innovator in many arts. In Pliny's Natural History (7.198) he is credited with inventing carpentry "and with it the saw, axe, plumb-line, drill, glue, and isinglass". Pausanias, in travelling around Greece, attributed to Daedalus numerous archaic wooden cult figures (see xoana) that impressed him: "All the works of this artist, though somewhat uncouth to look at, nevertheless have a touch of the divine in them."[25]

It is said he first conceived masts and sails for ships for the navy of Minos. He is said to have carved statues so well they looked as if alive; even possessing self-motion. They would have escaped if not for the chain that bound them to the wall.[26]

Daedalus gave his name, eponymously, to any Greek artificer and to many Greek contraptions that represented dextrous skill. At Plataea there was a festival, the Daedala, in which a temporary wooden altar was fashioned, and an effigy was made from an oak-tree and dressed in bridal attire. It was carried in a cart with a woman who acted as bridesmaid. The image was called Daedale and the archaic ritual given an explanation through a myth to the purpose

In the period of Romanticism, Daedalus came to denote the classic artist, a skilled mature craftsman, while Icarus symbolized the romantic artist, whose impetuous, passionate and rebellious nature, as well as his defiance of formal aesthetic and social conventions, may ultimately prove to be self-destructive. Stephen Dedalus, in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man envisages his future artist-self "a winged form flying above the waves [...] a hawk-like man flying sunward above the sea, a prophecy of the end he had been born to serve”.