The Flight Of Icarus Essay, Research Paper
I find the most fascinating of ancient writings to be Greek mythology. Writings produced by the early Greeks, in my opinion, even rival modern day literature. Hard to believe considering everything the human race has experienced and endured up to this point. With so many Greek tragedies, my favorite has to be “The Flight of Icarus.” Our story begins on the isle of Crete. The earliest known settlers were the Minoans. King Minos ruled this island nation. This Greek tragedy involves an inventor named Daedalus. His homeland was Athens. For a short time, his apprentice was his sister’s son Perdix. When Daedalus feared that Perdix would surpass him in talent, he murdered the boy by tossing him from the Acropolis of Athens. He was then tried at the Areopagus and banished from the city. Daedalus fled to Crete, where he began to work at the court of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae, in their magnificent palace of Knossos. There he constructed a wooden cow for the Queen to hide in to satisfy her amorous longings for a white bull sent by Poseidon, which caused her to become pregnant with the Minotaur. The irony is Minos had prayed to Poseidon to send him the white bull, as a sign of approval by the gods for his reig n.
Minos promised to sacrifice the bull as an offering, but he coveted it for himself. He assumed that Poseidon would not mind, so he kept it and sacrificed the best specimen from his herd instead. When Poseidon learned about the deceit, he made Minos’ wife fall madly in love with the white bull. The offspring of their lovemaking was a monster called the Minotaur.
The creature had the head and tail of a bull on the body of a man. It caused such terror and destruction on Crete that Minos himself summoned Daedalus. He ordered the architect to build a gigantic, intricate labyrinth from which escape would be impossible. The Minotaur was captured and locked in the labyrinth. Every year for nine years, seven youths and maidens came as a tribute from Athens. These young people were locked in the labyrinth for the Minotaur to feast upon. When the Greek hero Theseus reached Athens, he learned of the Minotaur and the sacrifices, and wanted to end this. He volunteered to go to Crete as one of the victims of the sacrifice. Upon his arrival in Crete, he met Ariadne, Minos’s daughter, who fell in love with Theseus. She promised she would provide the means to escape from the maze if he agreed to marry her. Ariadne asked Daedalus to help her. Daedalus gave her a flaxen thread for Theseus to tie to the door of the labyrinth as he entered, and by which he could find his way out after killing the Minotaur. Theseus succeeded, and escaped Crete with Ariadne. Minos, enraged at the loss of his daughter, shut Daedalus and his son Icarus into the labyrinth. Daedalus knew that Minos controlled any escape routes by land or sea, by Minos could not prevent an escape by flight. So Daedalus used his skills to build wings for himself and Icarus. He used wax and string to fasten feathers to reeds of varying lengths to imitate the curves of birds’ wings. When their wings were ready, Daedalus warned Icarus to fly at medium altitude. If he flew to high, the sun could melt the wax of his wings and the sea could dampen the feathers if he flew too low. Once they escaped Crete, Icarus became exhilarated by flight. Ignoring his father’s warning, he flew higher and higher. The sun melted the wax holding his wings together, and Icarus fell into the water and drowned. Daedalus looked down to see the feathers floating in the waves, and realized what had happened. He buried his son on an island, which would be called Icarius, and the sea into which Icarus had fallen would ever after be called the Icarian Sea. Daedalus, after burying his son, continued on his way to Sicily.
What a fantastic Greek tragedy. I do not know if a movie was ever made about the flight of Icarus, but I think it would be a great idea and I for one definitely would see that movie.