On Daedalus:

‘Modern scholars have often noted that the figure of Daedalus might originally have been an earthbound human double of the inventor god Hephaestus. Indeed, the Athenians gave Daedalus a genealogy that made him a descendant of Hephaestus, who was revered alongside the goddess Athena in Athens. A district of Athens came to be named for Daedalus, populated by craftsmen who saw him as their patron and claimed to be his descendants. Socrates, whose father was a stonemason, twice refers to Daedalus as his ancestor.

…The ancient Greek comparison of automata to slaves remains a concept with a moral significance in modernity. In antiquity, Greek and Roman masters were held responsible for the behavior of their salves. Today, present philosophers of Artificial Intelligence and robotics ethics maintain that it is imperative that AI and robots be considered tools and property – essentially slaves – and that makers must be held responsible for their programming and behavior.

…Aristotle’s discussions allude to legendary animated statues like those associated with Daedalus, but it is also possible that Aristotle had in made real self-moving machines, “mechanical dolls of some kind” made my contemporary inventors… Notably, Aristotle remarks that “an artifact might imitate” a living thing and he defines an automaton as “a kind of puppet with the ability to move by itself.”

In the Politics, Aristotle clearly speaks of self-moving statues like those made by Hephaestus and Daedalus. In a complicated passage in On the Soul… Aristotle specifically mentions Daedalus’s self-moving sculptures.

According to a brief poem by Pindar (Olympian 7.5-54, written in 464 BC), a group of legendary animated statues with similarities to works by Daedalus were located in Rhodes. “All along the avenues,” wrote Pindar, stood works of exalted art so gloriously crafted that they seem to “breathe and move.” An ancient scholiast’s commentary on the poem calls the statues “moving things with a soul or life spark.” IN this case, the maker was not said to have been Daedalus or Hephaestus, but the Telchines, blacksmith wizards of magical metallurgical lore, fabled to be the original inhabitants of Crete or Rhodes. The Telchines carried out activities similar to those of Hephaestus, but on a smaller scale, forging weapons and baubles for the gods. The powers of the statues of Rhodes recalled the bronze guardians defending harbors and borders, the function of the mythic Talos of Crete and the historical Colossus of Rhodes…’ –Adrienne Mayor, “Daedalus and the Living Statues” from Gods and Robots. 

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“In Homer, Hephaistos is the divine goldsmith. “

‘For the popularity of Athena among the artisans at this time some verses of Sophocles are characteristic: “Come out in the street you, all the people of the handicraftsmen, who venerate the daughter of Zeus, Ergane, with sacrificial baskets and beside the heavy anvil, beaten with hammers.” Evidently, Sophocles hints at some popular festival of Athena celebrated by the artisans in the streets of the town. There was such a festival, the Chalkeia. The word signifies the festival of the coppersmiths. It belonged to Athena, but at a later date another god of the Athenian artisans, Hephaistos, was associated with Athena. These two even had a common temple. In Homer, Hephaistos is the divine goldsmith. He probably came from the island of Lemnos or, perhaps, from Asia Minor. In origin he was a daemon of fire coming up from the earth. Gas which takes fire and burns is considered by many people to be divine. Later a volcano was considered to be his smithy. He had almost no cults in Greece except in Athens. No doubt the Athenian artisans took up his cult and place him at the side of Athena. He seemed, perhaps, to be nearer to them than the great city goddess. But in the early age it was she who was the protectress of the Athenian craftsmen.’ – Greek Folk Religion, Martin P. Nilsson.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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