It starts, perhaps, with Icarus. The boy and his father, Daedalus, are trying to escape from the island of Crete. Daedalus, the inventor, builds golden wings out of feathers and wax and straps them to himself and to his son. Before they take flight, the father issues a warning: my son, fly neither too low or the sea will dampen the feathers, nor too high or the sun will melt the wax. 

Icarus takes flight, and is caught up in wonder at the world he sees, and at his own ability to fly. With a rush of delight, he rises, higher and higher, closer to the sun – and by the time he realises that the wax has indeed melted and every flap of his wings releases a cloud of feathers into the air around him, it is too late. His father sees him fall, and hears the splash. No more Icarus. 

Or perhaps it starts with Prometheus, the trickster and challenger of the gods. In the myth as told by the poet Hesiod, he tricked Zeus into eating dry bones. In anger, Zeus hid fire from humanity: but Prometheus stole the fire in a fennel stalk, and brought it to earth. Zeus, in his wrath, condemned Prometheus to be tied to a rock, where every day an eagle came and plucked out his liver, and every night the liver grew back to be plucked out again. But the damage was done: humanity had fire, and could compete with the gods – and Prometheus was, in the end, rescued by Hercules. 

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