Welcome to Vengeance of the Sun God: Part Two.
Part Two? Yes, part two! This is my second semester studying mythology and writing under Dr. Laura Gibbs. (If you haven’t taken Indian Epics and need a World Lit credit, I highly recommend the class.) My storybook last semester grew, and Grew, and GREW until it became a novella instead of a storybook.
This semester, my storybook project is to complete that novella. I left my cast of characters stranded in some precarious places, and, I’m sure, they are waiting for their resolutions.
In order to catch up with the story, read Vengeance of the Sun God first!
What?! You don’t have time? Dude, I totally get it. Let me catch you up. I am blending the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus with the Hindu myth of Jatayu and Sampati, Sons of Aruna. Here is a run-down of the original story:
The story of Daedalus and Icarus: This classic myth is where we get two of the most famous Greek tales: The Minotaur in the Labyrinth and The Boy Who Flew Too Close to the Sun. Daedalus is in the service of Minos, the King of the island of Crete. Poseidon gives the king a white bull to use as a sacrifice. King Minos keeps the bull for himself. Poseidon asks Aphrodite to help him get revenge by making Queen Pasiphae lust for the bull. Daedalus constructs a wooden cow covered in cowhide at the request of the queen so she can mate with the bull. The queen later gives birth to the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull creature. King Minos charges Daedalus to design and build a labyrinth to keep the Minotaur imprisoned under Crete. After the labyrinth is complete, Daedalus and his son Icarus are also imprisoned in a tower above the labyrinth to protect the secrets of the labyrinth. Daedalus fashions wings so he and Icarus can escape. He coaches Icarus not to fly too high because the wax on the wings will melt in the heat of the sun. Icarus forgets the warning, flies too high, and falls to his death.
The story of Jatayu and Sampati, Sons of Aruna: This is a traditional myth from India. The brothers feature prominently in an important epic tale: The Ramayana, and here is their backstory. The two young eagles are sons of Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun. The brothers enjoy racing each other each day. One day as they are racing, Jatayu, the younger, stronger, and faster brother is not paying attention to the path he is carving through the sky. He nears the path of the sun. Aruna is distressed that he cannot slow his pace or change direction. Even the slightest deviation would throw the universe into chaos. Sampati races above Jatayu and shields him from the approaching rays of the sun. Sampati falls to the earth. Unable to fly because he is severely disfigured by the sun’s blast, Sampati lives in a cave by the shore on the southern tip of India. Jatayu eventually becomes a close friend of King Dasaratha and a protector Rama, the human avatar of the god Vishnu.
Summary of “Vengeance of a Sun God, Part A”: Daedalus is given an opportunity to sneak Icarus off the island of Crete so the boy can have his freedom and go make his own way in life. Afraid that Icarus will not leave the island without his father, Daedalus lies to his son and sends him on a quest to obtain feathers from mythical giant eagles so that the two can escape using wing apparatuses that Daedalus has designed.
But Daedalus is wrong about the giant eagles being just a myth. They are real! Icarus finds the eagle brothers and slays them. After he collects the feathers from the wings of his victims, Athena (goddess of wisdom, patron goddess of Daedalus) appears and prophesies Icarus’ own death as a punishment for the murder of the giant eagles.
Icarus returns to Crete. He and his father build the infamous wing apparatuses and take flight, aiming for Greece. Aruna appears and tries to get revenge on Icarus by shooting flaming arrows at Daedalus while the escapees are still in flight. The spirit of Sampati takes control of Icarus’ apparatus and flies between Aruna and Daedalus to save the spirit of his brother Jatayu. Icarus crashes to the sea and sinks beneath the waves.
Daedalus goes into total shock and the spirit of Jatayu flies him to Sicily. Once Daedalus reaches the island, he manages to get the wing apparatus off. Athena appears and commands that he build an altar to Apollo (god of the sun). Daedalus complies. After making an explosive entrance, Apollo commands Daedalus to put the wing apparatus back on.
Once he is connected to the wing apparatus, and the spirit of Jatayu, Daedalus is able to see subtle shifts in the gods he is speaking with. Because of a strange mystical concept that the gods refer to as “the Convergence,” Daedalus is able to perceive the gods in both their Greek and Hindu forms. Athena and Sampati (Hindu goddess of wisdom) share a form and take turns communicating with Daedalus. Apollo shares a form with Aruna.
The gods offer Daedalus an opportunity to make amends for Icarus’s transgression by asking him to travel with the gods to India and bind Jatayu’s essence with Daedalus’ soul in order for Jatayu to fulfill his divine mission. Daedalus agrees.
The next chapter will shift focus from Daedalus to an island in the Nile Delta. There you will meet one of my favorite Greek characters: Proteus, the eldest son of Poseidon (god of the sea).
Continue to Chapter 1.