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Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Page: 108

Ion's suspicions at once fell upon the obsequious servant of Crëusa, who with such officious attention had filled his cup. He violently seized the old man, and accused him of his murderous intentions. Unprepared for this sudden attack he admitted his guilt, but pointed to the wife of Xuthus as the instigator of the crime. Ion was about to avenge himself upon Crëusa, when, by means of the divine intervention of Apollo, his foster-mother, the Delphic priestess appeared on the scene, and explained the true relationship which existed between Crëusa and Ion. In order to set all doubts at rest, she produced the charms which she had found round the neck of the infant, and also the wicker basket in which he had been conveyed to Delphi.

Mother and son now became reconciled to each other, and Crëusa revealed to Ion the secret of his divine origin. The priestess of Delphi foretold that he would become the father of a great nation, called after him the Ionians, and also that Xuthus and Crëusa would have a son called Dorus, who would be the progenitor of the Dorian people, both of which predictions were in due time verified.

DÆDALUS and ICARUS.

Dædalus, a descendant of Erechtheus, was an Athenian architect, sculptor, and mechanician. He was the first [212]to introduce the art of sculpture in its higher development, for before his time statues were merely rude representations, having the limbs altogether undefined.

But great as was his genius, still greater was his vanity, and he could brook no rival. Now his nephew and pupil, Talus, exhibited great talent, having invented both the saw and the compass, and Dædalus, fearing lest he might overshadow his own fame, secretly killed him by throwing him down from the citadel of Pallas-Athene. The murder being discovered, Dædalus was summoned before the court of the Areopagus and condemned to death; but he made his escape to the island of Crete, where he was received by king Minos in a manner worthy of his great reputation.

Dædalus constructed for the king the world-renowned labyrinth, which was an immense building, full of intricate passages, intersecting each other in such a manner, that even Dædalus himself is said, upon one occasion, to have nearly lost his way in it; and it was in this building the king placed the Minotaur, a monster with the head and shoulders of a bull and the body of a man.

In the course of time the great artist became weary of his long exile, more especially as the king, under the guise of friendship, kept him almost a prisoner. He therefore resolved to make his escape, and for this purpose ingeniously contrived wings for himself and his young son Icarus, whom he diligently trained how to use them. Having awaited a favourable opportunity, father and son commenced their flight, and were well on their way when Icarus, pleased with the novel sensation, forgot altogether his father's oft-repeated injunction not to approach too near the sun. The consequence was that the wax, by means of which his wings were attached, melted, and he fell into the sea and was drowned. The body of the unfortunate Icarus was washed up by the tide, and was buried by the bereaved father on an island which he called after his son, Icaria.


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