The Envy of Daedalus

Essay on the Artist as Murderer


Marcello Barbanera
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Why the myth of Daedalus, the protos euretes, is connected with envy and murder? The author takes as his starting point Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where Daedalus’ envy drives him to murder his pupil and nephew Perdix. He also considers the passage of Seneca the Elder, about the painter Parrhasius and the citizen from Olynthus, that he had tortured in order to paint the agony of Prometheus. The first case is a topos of the artist’s biography which implies, that the craft of the artisan was held as a guarded secret; the second is related to mimesis. The author questions what role the topos of the artist as murderer plays in text and imagery, from the Middle Ages to modern literature.

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