& Deadalus Essay, Research Paper


The myth of Icarus and Deadalus has spanned the ages as a story told to teach children the value of obeying their parents. Under further examination though, it proves to have a set of underlying lessons, morals, and meanings that are common in Greek Mythology and pertain to modern day life.

Deadalus was a highly respected and talented Athenian artist who was a descendent from the royal family of Cecrops. He was an architect, a sculpture, and an inventor who many said was the best in all of Greece. Deadalus had a nephew who was also skilled with his hands named Talus. One day Deadalus got jealous of an idea that Talus came up with for a sculpture and he pushed him off the Acropolis. In punishment for this he was exiled to Crete to be ruled over by King Minos.

In Crete, King Minos had Deadalus build the labyrinth to hold the minotaur. While there, Deadalus had a son, Icarus with Naucrate a mistress of Minos’s. When Theseus came to Crete he fell in love with King Minos’s daughter, a friend of Deadalus’s. She asked Deadalus to show Theseus the secret of the Labrinth and he did. When Minos learned of this, he imprisoned Deadalus and his son Icarus in the labrinth. Icarus and Deadalus had an interesting relationship. Deadalus loved Icarus more than anything in the world. But Deadalus was frustrated because it seemed that the young Icarus was brash in his actions. Deadalus was worried because for Icarus to follow in his father’s foot-steps and become a great inventor and sculptor he would need patience.

To escape Deadalus fashioned wings molded of wax, and laced with feathers, to fly away. Before they left, he said to Icarus, “Don’t fly to low as to get the feathers wet, and don’t fly to high as to melt the wax. The father and son were successful in their escape, but it was in the journey where young Icarus went wrong. Overcome by the exhilarating feeling of soaring through the air like a bird, Icarus began to climb higher in the sky. The further he went, the more the great sun was like a warm beacon telling Icarus to fly higher. Deadalus tried to catch him and bring his son back to safe altitudes, but it was too late. Young Icarus’s wings melted with the warmth of the sun and he plunged down to his death in the great sea.

This myth is laced with symbolism. From the wings, the sun, the ocean, to the young brash Icarus not heeding his father’s warnings, this myth was passed on to teach lessons in mortal Greece. The wings are one of the more powerful symbols in the myth. The wings need to be worn by someone with a strong will. They are like drugs in our society, so addicting that a person will destroy his or her life over them. When a mortal wears the wings he is possessed by a want to continue to fly higher and finally reach Mount Olympus and the level of the gods. But the wearer cannot succumb to this desire, for the gods heavily dislike the quality of envy. Icarus just did not possess the will power to not fly higher and the gods resented this and punished him with his life.

The gods were never happy when mortals tried to do things on the level of the immortals. To the gods, it was as if the mortals were saying that the immortals were not all that impressive. When Deadalus make the wings of wax, he is not just trying to fly so that he can be closer to Mount Olympus and the gods, he is trying to escape from the labyrinth that King Minos has imprisoned him in. This is the big difference between him and his son. When Icarus flies, he pays no respect to the gods. He flies higher and higher without acknowledging the powers above himself. This disrespect is also why he is punished with his life.

The gods were especially harsh in this situation. Icarus’s life is not all that he is punished with. When he dies, he falls down into the ocean to join the graveyard that has claimed the lives of thousands. It is similar to the concept of the Unknown Soldier. In a time where death with honor is worth ones life, there is no honor in dying at sea. Icarus didn’t just lose his life but he lost a proper burial and the honor that goes along with it. But again the gods showed their powers of forgiveness, and allowed Hercules to find his body and give him a proper burial.

Deadalus a very important element, to the myth symbolizes a lot. The first thing that he symbolizes is the god’s ability to forgive when they want to. When Deadalus was sent to King Minos as punishment, it must have seemed as if he was finished being spun into tales of mythology. But years of not committing any sins, gave him the chance to sort of appeal to the gods and fly away. He is also a key and direct symbol for modern day society. Deadalus was way ahead of his time. He was able to overcome any problem when he put his mind to it. By using physics he was able to build machines like the ones that we rely on so heavily today.

This myth actually applies to my life in a big way. I have the type of personality that if I do something, I get really caught up in it and go full out. When Icarus put on the wings, he was caught in the mystique and consequently lost his life and honor. I find that I often get so caught up in an activity and without knowing it violate some kind of rule and am surprised to find myself in trouble. But after reading this myth I realize that if I step back and kind of ask the gods, (authorities) what they think of my actions I can really decide whether to carry through with whatever it is that I am doing.

After writing this paper, I am struck by the surprise that once again, something written over thousand years ago still can be relevant. It makes you realize that back then they were struggling to overcome the same problems that baffle us in modern day life. Maybe life is one big loop where we always come back to what we have learned in the past.