A different kind of hero…
Introduction: Imagine a huge volcanic island rising up through the depths of the sea. Something like Krakatoa, explosive, and capable of generating deadly sea borne tsunamis. Based upon the geology, that’s exactly what happened about 1650 BC, right smack in the middle of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. The volcano at the core of the island now called Santorini, blew apart. All that remains are the remnant cliffs of an ancient caldera, several miles across, and adorned with picturesque hotels and tourist spas. The small dark island rising just a few meters above sea level (pictured just behind the cruise ship), is all that’s left of the cone. From its steaming sulfurous vents, you must know that the heart of the volcano is still active… and rebuilding.
How different the climates of Northern Africa and the Middle East would be, if the earth (we) still had a giant humidifier…a massive sea born volcano…dominating the meteorology and geography of the region. Prior to the eruption, the ancestral island was a paradise filled with abundant fresh water, animals and birds, and home to a vigorous and thriving culture. Archaeological remains demonstrate their skills as artisans, merchants, and shipwrights. From their paintings and sculptures, buildings and jewelry, the Minoans built an advanced civilization. Their ships traded throughout the Mediterranean. They even created and wrote with an alphabet, long before their European counterparts.
The island of Crete is just to the south. Much larger, it served as the population center of a thriving Minoan nation. There, a feminine priesthood ruled over the ceremonies of daily life, community affairs, and bull worship. A powerful patriarch named Minos controlled commerce and trade. The civilization created by these opposing energies was a magnet for alchemists, artists, and engineers from the mainland, including a gifted inventor named Daedalus.
On Crete he was a foreigner, from the city of Athens; someone with a gift for creating tools and other useful things. He invented the saw out of bronze. Then he used it to create the first dance floor on the island. Modern movies have glamorized Bronze Age heroes for their prowess with swords, shields, and bows. But Daedalus didn’t have massive shoulders or a double bladed ax strapped to his back. He gained fame and legendary status because his inventions and deeds advanced the quality of life in his community. He was, according to Joseph Campbell, the original hero of the way of thought.
For too long Daedalus’ story has languished in the backwaters of legend and myth. His is a special brand of heroics, difficult to find or portray on a movie screen. It is the everyday variety. I call it wingbuilding.