27 • 05 • 2022

The Myth of Icarus and Daedalus

In mythological ancient Greece, Icarus, and his father Daedalus soared across the sky with wings made of wax and feathers. To the people on the ground, he looked like a god, and up there, Icarus felt like one. But if one thing is certain in Greek mythology, the line that separated man and god was absolute, and the punishment given to mortals who attempted to cross it was severe. But how on earth did we get here? And what will happen to them? Well we first have to go to the very beginning.

Daedalus

Before Icarus was born, Daedalus was well known in his home country of Athens as a genius inventor and craftsman. He made many breakthroughs like how he invented carpentry and all the tools used for it, he built the first bathhouse, and the first dance floor. He made statues so lifelike, Hercules mistook them for real men. Skilled as Daedalus was, he was also egotistical and jealous. Worried that his nephew was a more skillful craftsman, Daedalus murdered him. As punishment he was banished from Athens to Crete. Due to his reputation, Daedalus was welcome into the palace by King Minos and became his technical advisor where he continued to push the boundaries. He made the King's children animated toys that looked alive, he invented the sail and mast, giving humans control over the wind. With every great invention, he pushed the boundaries that separated god from man, until he broke right through. King Minos' wife Pasiphaë was cursed by Poseidon to love the King's prized bull. Under this spell, she asked Daedalus to help her seduce it. With an incredible amount of audacity, he agreed, and proceeded to craft a wooden cow so lifelike it fooled the bull. With Pasiphaë in the cow craft, she conceived a half man half bull creature named the Minotaur. Understably furious, King Minos blamed Daedalus for this perversion of natural law, and commanded Daedalus to make an inescapable labyrinth for the Minotaur. Once it was finished, and the Minotaur was imprisoned, he imprisoned Daedalus and his only son Icarus on the tallest tower in Crete, where they would live out the rest of their lives.

The Escape

Daedalus was still a genius inventor, and as he saw the birds fly through the sky, the means of escape became clear. He and Icarus would fly out of the prison as only birds or gods do. Using feathers and wax from candles, Daedalus constructed two pairs of giant wings. While he strapped the wings to his son's back, he warned him "Flying too near the sun would melt the wax and the wings would disintegrate, but flying too close to the ocean would dampen the wings making them too heavy to use. The key to escape was flying in the middle." With the instructions clear, both men leaped from the tower, and were the first people to fly. While Daedalus stayed the middle course, Icarus was overwhelmed with the ecstasy of flight, and the divine power that came with it. Daedalus could only watch as his son soared higher and higher, powerless to change his son's fate. The heat melted the wax, and Icarus fell from the sky. Just as Daedalus ignored the consequences of defying mortal law in service of his ego, Icarus was also carried away by his own hubris. In the end, both men paid deeply for their departure from moral law. Icarus with his life, and Daedalus with his regret.

Chaldea Studios Design