| Stories of the Ancient Greeks|
|by Charles D. Shaw|
|Delightful collection of both mythological and historical stories of the ancient Greeks, in language simple enough for younger listeners, yet appealing to all ages. Provides an excellent introduction to ancient Greece, beginning with 32 of the best-known myths, and then continuing with 32 short stories of the historical era, arranged in chronological order. An extensive pronunciation guide is included. Ages 8-11 |
WINGS OF WAX
HE man who built the labyrinth for King Minos was named
Dædalus. He was a genius and could do wonderful
things. The king became angry at him and shut him up
in a tower. He easily escaped, but could not leave the
island of Crete because the king watched all the ships,
and no captain dared take Dædalus on board.
He put together sticks of strong but light wood, and
made a pair of frames. On these he fastened feathers
with wax and cord until they were like the wings of a
very large bird. He made another and smaller pair for
his son Icarus, who was always playing around him and
When all was ready he took the boy to the top of a high
hill near the sea. First he arranged the smaller pair
of wings upon his son, then fitted the larger pair to
his own shoulders and arms. He thought best to give
Icarus some good advice.
"My son," he said, "we are now about to try a strange
and wonderful thing. I believe these wings are strong
enough to bear us safely across the sea into another
and more friendly land, but I warn you to be careful.
When we are once in the air I can do little to help
 me and keep near me. Do just what I
do, and it is my hope that you all will be well."
The boy promised to obey. His father threw him upward
a little way; he spread his wings, and found that he
could really fly. Dædalus sprang up, darted past
him, and said again, "Follow me closely, my son!"
It was wonderful and delightful. High in air, but not
too high, they sailed over the land like gigantic
birds. Farmers stopped their plows and looked up with
open mouths. Cattle lifted their heads and started at
the strange sight. Women going to the wells for water
ran screaming home. Boys and men took their bows and
shot arrows which could not reach the fliers.
Soon they were over the sea. The blue waters sparkled
below them. Fisherman left their nets, and rowers
dropped their oars, to wonder at the huge birds that
cast such a wide shadow.
Icarus had never been so happy. He was not the least
afraid, for he could manage his wings perfectly. His
father was pleased to see him keeping so near and doing
Like other boys, this one got tired of being safe and
happy. Suddenly he shot up into the air, higher and
higher. He could see much farther and was proud of his
daring. He grew very warm, for the sun was shining
with great heat. The wax upon his wings began to melt.
It dripped away, carrying the feathers with it. The
bare frames could not hold him up. He was no longer a
bird; he was nothing but a boy.
He fell. His father could not catch him, and if he had
 caught him, one pair of wings was not enough for
Icarus fell into the sea. They spray leaped up, the
waves danced. That was al.
His father flew down to a land which was close by, and
which he called Icaria, in memory of his foolish and
Dædalus had a nephew Perdix, whom he taught to be
a skillful workman. This boy picked up on the seashore
the back-bone of a fish. Looking at it gave him an
idea. He took a piece of iron, made notches in the
edge, and thus invented the saw.
He took two pieces of iron, sharpened them at one end,
riveted them together at the other, and made the first
pair of compasses.
Dædalus was not pleased. He thought the boy was
a greater genius than himself, and that was unbearable.
He took Perdix to the top of a high tower and pushed
him off. He would surely have been killed if Athene
had not been watching him. She changed him into the
bird called the partridge, which builds its nest on the
ground, and never flies high in the air because it
knows the danger of falling.
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