How many times have you been told not to fly too close to the sun? The Greek myth of Icarus is one of the most well-known stories from antiquity and a perfect example of what can happen when you ignore this warning. It tells the story of a father and son who attempted to escape from imprisonment by flying.

Who was Icarus' father

Icarus was the son of the master craftsman Daedalus. Daedalus was an expert craftsman who lived in ancient Greece. He is best known for his work at the palace of King Minos of Crete. Daedalus was also an accomplished sculptor and architect, and his skills were greatly admired by his peers. 

Pasiphae the Minotaur & the Labyrinth

Minos' wife, Pasiphae, had fallen in love with the Cretan bull and given birth to the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man. To house this creature, Daedalus was commissioned to build a labyrinth, a maze-like structure.

When Theseus came to Crete from Athens and killed the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, he did so using a claw that Daedalus had given to her. Theseus and Ariadne left Crete together.

Daedalus and Icarus in prison

King Minos was outraged with Daedalus for helping Theseus escape from the labyrinth. He refused to let Daedalus and Icarus leave and imprisoned them in a tower above his palace in Knossos.  Icarus was very adventurous, and he quickly became restless. He wanted to explore the world and see all that it had to offer. 

Daedalus' Escape Plan

Daedalus was desperate to find a way out and devised a plan to escape. Daedalus fashioned wings for himself and his son, Icarus. They would be able to fly away from the island and escape the wrath of King Minos. Daedalus never forgot the lessons he learned from his experience and went on to become one of the most renowned inventors of his time.

Daedalus managed to create two sets of wings for himself and his son, that were made of feathers glued together with wax.

Icarus Flies

He taught his son Icarus how to fly and decided that the best way to escape from the palace was to fly up and over it. However, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, which would cause the wax to melt, or too low, which would cause the feathers to get wet with seawater.

The Fall of Icarus

Together, they flew out of the tower towards freedom, leaving Crete. However, Icarus soon forgot his father's warnings and started flying higher and higher, until the wax started melting under the scorching sun. His wings dissolved and he fell into the sea and drowned.

Icarus' flight is one of the most famous Greek myths. The story tells of a young man who attempts to fly too close to the sun with wings made of wax and feathers. The heat from the sun melts the wax and Icarus falls into the sea and drowns.

Icarus in Greek and Roman Literature

Icarus' story was often alluded to by Greek poets in passing and was told briefly in Pseudo-Apollodorus. One of the most influential versions comes from the Roman poet Ovid, who included it in his Metamorphoses. In his telling of the tale, Ovid emphasizes the dangers of hubris and overreaching, warning that even the most ambitious plans can go awry.

Icarus in English Literature 

This version of the story had a significant impact on later writers, particularly those in England. John Milton, for example, drew heavily on Ovid's account when crafting his epic poem Paradise Lost. The influence of Ovid can also be seen in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, where Cassius compares Brutus to Icarus as a warning against excessive pride. It is clear that Ovid's treatment of the Icarus myth left a lasting mark on English literature.

A Cautionary Tale About Hubris

Icarus is one of the most famous tragic figures in Greek mythology, as his story highlights the dangers of hubris, or excessive pride. Although he was warned by his father not to fly too high, Icarus became overexcited and flew too close to the sun, causing his wings to melt and leading to his untimely death.

While the story is often interpreted as being about the dangers of hubris, it can also be seen as a warning against recklessness and carelessnes. After all, it was not hubris that caused Icarus to fall, but rather his inexperience and imprudence. In other words, the moral of the story may be less about the dangers of arrogance, and more about the importance of learning from mistakes.

The Dangers of Overreaching

This story is often used as a cautionary tale, warning of the dangers of overreaching and disregarding advice. Icarus represents the human tendency to overestimate our abilities and to take unnecessary risks. We can all learn from his mistakes and be sure to exercise caution in our pursuits. It is also a reminder that we should be careful not to let our pride get the better of us. Icarus' tragic story has been told and retold for centuries, and continues to resonate with people today.

The area of the sea where he fell took the name Icarian Sea after him, while a nearby island was named Icaria and the island's airport Icarus Airport.

Icarus Video

Icarus Q&A

Who was Icarus?

How many times have you been told not to fly too close to the sun? The Greek myth of Icarus is one of the most well-known stories from antiquity and a perfect example of what can happen when you ignore this warning.

Who were the parents of Icarus?

The parent of Icarus was Daedalus.

Link/Cite Icarus Page

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