Daedalus and Icarus


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Daedalus and Icarus

A great inventor, whose name was Daedalus, lived in the ancient city of Athens and many of the wonderful things that the Athenians used had been designed and made by him. He and his family were treated with honour and became very wealthy, but his son Icarus grew lazy and arrrogant because his father was such a powerful person.
Daedalus had a nephew called Talios who learnt everything he could and soon began to make many useful items himself. As he became more famous, Daedalus became more jealous and angry, until one day Daedalus, in a rage, killed him. The King of Athens sent soldiers to arrest Daedalus, but he and Icarus managed to escape to the island of Crete.
Not knowing about the murder, King Minos of Crete was very pleased to welcome such a famous visitor and his son. “Stay as long as you wish,” said King Minos, “we would be delighted for you to carry on your wonderful work here.” Icarus spent his days lazing around and Daedalus designed many fine machines and buildings.

He had just finished building a wonderful maze of tunnels under the city when the King came to him. “This wonderful piece of work will be the home of a monster called the Minotaur that I have captured,” he said. “Of course you and Icarus will have to stay in the maze forever so that its secret will stay safe,” he added. Both were horrified of the idea that they would be stuck in the tunnels forever and so King Minos gave them permission to leave once a year providing they took a guard with them.

Icarus continued to do nothing, but Daedalus planned their escape! He built two harnesses from leather, each with two wings that he covered in wax and feathers. On the day the guard took them out of the tunnels he and Icarus carried them to a cliff top and strapped them on, “Just remember,” whispered Daedalus, “do not fly too high or the wax will melt and the feathers will fall, taking you with them!” Icarus, as usual, ignored his father and when the guard wasn’t looking they leapt off the cliff and into the sky. Icarus soared higher and higher towards the sun until the wax began to drip and he plummeted to his death. Daedalus flew on to safety, forever saddened by the death of his son.

Focus and Retrieve:

Eyes on the Page

  • What relationship was Talios to Daedalus?

  • Which island did Daedalus and Icarus escape to?

Make an Inference:

Use the Clues

  • Why was King Minos pleased to welcome Daedalus and Icarus?

  • Why did Daedalus whisper his instructions to Icarus?

Interpret and Integrate:

Mix and Match

  • Which paragraph could be sub titled “Trapped in the Maze”?

  • What type of text is this?

Examine, Evaluate and Respond:

Be the Judge

  • What lesson is this story trying to teach us?

  • What sort of a character is Daedalus?

It’s Your Turn to Work it Out:

Answer these questions and try to identify the type of question it might be:

  1. What does the word “plummeted” (Para 5) mean in the context of this text?

  2. What was King Minos going to put in the maze?

  3. What could be an appropriate but alternative title for this text?

  4. Do you think this is a modern or old story? Explain why.

Have a go at making up your own questions and try not to make them all “Eyes on the Page”.

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