The mythical inventors Hephaistos, Daedalus, Talos (or Calus), Palamedes and others

Michael Lahanas

Mythologische Erfinder: Hephaistos, Daedalus, Talos, Palamedes und andere

without union with Zeus -- for she was very angry and quarrelled with her mate -- bare famous Hephaestus, who is skilled in crafts more than all the sons of Heaven. Hesiod Theogony

claimed dice were invented by Palamedes during the siege of Troy. Palamedes of Argos some say invented eleven letters of the alphabet or, as others say even sixteen. Palamedes is assumed to have discovered counting and coinage, weights and measures (attributed also to Hermes), military ranks and the game of pessoi (a forerunner of chess). Palamedes was killed directly or indirect by Odysseus. Herodotus attributed the discover of the dice to the Lydians in the reign of Atys. Probably dice were known and invented independently in various places back up to 6000 BC. Romans believed that Fortuna the daughter of Zeus decided about the outcome of a throw. Egyptians believed that their god Theuth invented dice and also numbers, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, etc.


Philoctetes on Lemnos, 1788, Jean-Germain Drouais (1763 - 1788), (1.76 m x 2.25 m) Chartres, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Another ancient Greek like Oedipus having health problems with his foot.

Philoctetes, whose story has been treated elsewhere, was a master- archer, perhaps inventor of some new type of bow, such as the bow with bent -back curvature at the tips for a secondary spring effect, which is a kind of bow that Homer mentions. But he is rejected by the army storming Troy, left on a desert island on the weak excuse that he had a badly infected foot which represented a curse, and only when the military realize that they need his weapon, is there any attempt to make a reconciliation with him William Harris, Man the Inventor of Tools


Joseph-Benoit Suvee, Invention of the Art of Drawing, 1791, 2.67 m x 1.32 m, Groeninge Museum, Bruges

According to a legend the first figurine in clay was produced by Boutades, a Sikyonian potter at Corinth thought to have lived before 657 BC. Boutades produced the figurine on behalf of his daughter, "who was in love with a young man; and she, when he was going abroad, drew in outline on the wall the shadow of his face thrown by a lamp. Her father, having pressed clay onto this, made a relief that he hardened by exposing it to fire along with the rest of his pottery" Pliny. The daughter of Boutades sketched the outline of a boy’s shadow, cast on the wall by lamplight as he slept. Delighted with the perfection of the likeness, Boutades cut out the shape, filled in the outline with clay and made a model that he dried and baked (Pliny 35. 151-152 and Athenagoras, Legatio pro Christianis 17). Antonio Corso The Position of Portraiture in Early Hellenistic Art Criticism

Musical Instruments

The Lyre, with 3 strings, according to mythology was invented by Hermes and was given to Apollo (who some say added another 4 strings). Hermes. at the age of one day (!!!), climbed out of his cradle and he found the shield of a turtle. He stretched the skin of a cow around it, fixed two horns through the holes were once the paws of the animal stood and he tied strings at the horizontal connection between the arms. The cow was taken from the cattle of his brother Apollo who was angry until Hermes offered him the lyre.

There is a meaning also in the myth of the ancients, which tells how Athene invented the flute and then threw it away. It was not a bad idea of theirs, that the Goddess disliked the instrument because it made the face ugly; but with still more reason may we say that she rejected it because the acquirement of flute-playing contributes nothing to the mind, since to Athene we ascribe both knowledge and art. Aristotle, Politics

Optimized flying devices:

Airbus tried to reduce the weights of their airplanes (especially the giant version tested this year). I guess that even the ancient Greeks knew that weight reduction is important: A weight optimized mythological flying device (with a drink from a stewardess for Triptolemos, before the flight).


William Harris, Man the Inventor of Tools

Jacob E. Nyenhuis, Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker