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The Daedalus Medal

In 1995, the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes began awarding the Daedalus Medal to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the ideas of the Studienstiftung and who have played examplary roles in the scholarly community.

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The Legend of Daedalus

In Greek mythology, Daedalus was the inventor of sculpture and other mechanical and engineering arts of his time.

His father was Eupalamus, whose name means `skilled with his hands' and a direct descendant of the Athenian king Erechtheus. He fought and killed his apprentice Perdix and consequently fled to Crete. There, he was commissioned by King Minos to create various technical devices and structures.

His most famous creation was the Labyrinth, which he constructed to both house and imprison the Minotaur: a fearsome creature half man and half bull. It is said that he modeled it along the lines of the one constructed in Egypt for the temple of Amenemhet III. The maze was rumored to have been built according to a dancing floor for Ariadne, the princess of Crete and Minos' daughter.

The Minotaur in Daedalus' maze fed upon the human sacrifice of various vassal states to Crete. One day, the story is written, a young hero, Theseus, was called upon to be sacrificed in the Labyrinth, and Ariadne, upon seeing him, fell instantly in love. She approached Daedalus and begged him for help to spare Theseus' life. The story continues that, armed with a method to penetrate the Labyrinth and kill the Minotaur (from Daedalus) and a way to return back to the entrance (from Ariadne), the young hero successfully encountered and destroyed the monster.

King Minos, enraged by Daedalus' actions, captured him and his son Icarus, and left them on a deserted island to die. Daedalus, however, proved to be inhumanly resourceful and used the feathers of the birds that lived there, along with wax and string, to create wings for him and his son. Though Icarus was admonished not to fly too close to the sun, lest the wax holding his wings together melt, he did so and fell to his death in what was later named the Icaran Sea. Daedalus however escaped to Sicily, and later to Sardinia, where all records of his life are lost.

Daedalus' name, in the masculine form, is the word for `idol' or `carved image'.

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Daedalus and the Studienstiftung

The Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes has chosen Daedalus as the patron for the medal because of his unification of theory and practical applications. He was using and implementing his ideas, was successful in his work and confronted the experience of failure without abandoning his efforts, an attitude the Studienstiftung tries to foster among its fellows.

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Medalists

The Daedalus Medal has been awarded for the first time in 1995, and the award was presented to

Dr. med. Johannes Zilkens

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