Icarus Essay, Research Paper
…Daedalus, hating Crete and his long exile, and longing to see his native land, was shut in by the sea. “Though he may block escape by land and water,” he said, “yet the sky is open, and by that way I will go. Though Minos rules over all, he does not rule the air.” So saying, he sets his mind at work upon unknown arts, and changes the laws of nature. For he lays feathers in order, beginning at the smallest, short next to long, so you would think they had grown on a slope. Just so the old-fashioned rustic pan-pipes with their unequal reeds rise one above another.Then he fastened the feathers together with twine and wax at the middle and bottom; and, thus arranged, he bent them with a gentle curve, so that they looked like real birds’ wings.
His son, Icarus, was standing by and, little knowing that he was handling his own peril, with gleeful face would now catch at the feathers which some passing breeze had blown about, now mold the yellow wax with his thumb, and by his sport would hinder his father’s wonderful task. When now the finishing touches had been put upon the work, the master workman himself balanced his body on two wings and hung poised on the beaten air. He taught his son also and said: “I warn you, Icarus, to fly in a middle course, lest, if you go too low, the water may weight your wings; if you go too high, the fire may burn them. Fly between the two. And I bid you not to shape your course like Bootes or Helice or the drawn sword of Orion, but fly where I shall lead.” At the same time he tells him the rules of flight and fits the strange wings on his boy’s shoulders. While he works and talks the old man’s cheeks are wet with tears, and his fatherly hands tremble. He kisses his son, which he was destined never again to do, and rising on his wings, he flew on ahead, fearing for his companion, just like a bird which has led forth her fledglings from the high nest into the unsubstantial air.
He encourages the boy to follow, instructs him in the fatal art of flight, himself flapping his wings and looking back on his son. Now some fisherman spies them, angling for fish with his flexible rod, or a shepherd, leaning upon his crook, or a plowman, on his plow-handles–spies them and stands stupefied, and believes them to be gods that they could fly through the air. And now Juno’s sacred Samos had been passed on the left, and Delos and Paros; Lebinthos was on the right and Calymne, rich in honey, when the boy began to rejoice in his bold flight and, deserting his leader, led by a desire for the open sky, directed his course to a greater height. The scorching rays of the nearer sun softened the fragrant wax which held his wings.
The wax melted; his arms were bare as he beat them up and down, but, lacking wings, they took no hold on the air. His lips, calling to the last upon his father’s name, were drowned in the dark blue sea, which took its name from him. But the unhappy father, now no longer father, called: “Icarus, Icarus, where are you? In what place shall I seek you? Icarus,” he called again; and then he spied the wings floating on the deep, and cursed his skill. He buried the boy in a tomb, and the land was called for the buried boy.