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A step towards a dream or a childish prank: Why the story of Icarus is interpreted differently from the ancient Greek myth itself
A step towards a dream or a childish prank: Why the story of Icarus is interpreted differently from the ancient Greek myth itself
Lamentation for Icarus. Fragment. (1898). Posted by Herbert James Draper

We all know beautiful the story of Icarus, which flew high to the sun and, having fallen from a great height, crashed at the coastal rocks. For centuries, many writers and artists have given this image a symbolic meaning, which consists in courage, in a person's striving for freedom and dreams. However, the ancient Greek myth, on the basis of which the beautiful legend was invented, says something completely different.

Ancient Greek myth about Icarus and Daedalus

"Daedalus and Icarus". Author: Caravaggio

The myth of Icarus and Daedalus is characteristic of the period of late classical mythology, when heroes become popular, manifesting themselves not in strength and weapons, but in resourcefulness and skill.

“Icarus and Daedalus

The protagonist of this ancient Greek legend is Icarus's father, Daedalus, who made wings for him. And yet he was the most skillful person of his time, the greatest craftsman, inventor of carpentry tools, the most skillful architect and sculptor, his fantastic sculptures were as if they were alive.

However, the legendary Greek craftsman had to flee from Athens, where, in a fit of envy and anger, he committed a crime: he threw from the roof of the acropolis his nephew Talos, who surpassed him in talent and skill.

A 12-year-old boy, despite such a young age, invented a carpentry saw, constructed a potter's wheel, invented a lathe and a compass, after the pattern and likeness of the spine of a fish. Daedalus was so afraid of the superiority of the young genius that he once pushed him off the roof of the Athenian Acropolis.

Having killed his nephew, Delal tried to hide the traces of the crime, but he was caught hot and condemned to death. But he managed to escape to the island of Crete, where he asked for protection from King Minos. And already living at the court of the ruler, Delal had to maneuver between two fires.

Antique vase painting. "Pasiphae with his son Minotaur."

As the ancient Greek legend says: at first he helped the Queen Pasiphae to instruct her husband of the horn, who betrayed him with a bull, in the most literal sense of the word; then he helped Minos hide the Minotaur born by Pasiphae - a monster with a bull's head and a human body from prying eyes, building the famous labyrinth. A few years later, he helped the enemy of the Cretan king Theseus kill the bull-headed Minotaur. It was Daedalus who invented how not to get lost in the labyrinth with the help of a thread and told about this to Ariadne, who gave this thread to Theseus.

Antique vase painting. "Theseus kills the Minotaur."

But this is already a story from another myth, when the Greek hero Theseus went to the island of Crete in order to destroy the Minotaur, to whom the Athenians had to send seven young men and seven beautiful girls to be torn apart every nine years.

The angry king Minos, hearing about complicity, imprisoned in a labyrinth both Daedalus himself and his son Icarus, who was already born on the island from the slave of Navkarta. By the way, the master's son was a mirror copy of his murdered cousin Talos, and they were also the same age at that time. But in fairness, it should be noted that, unlike Talos, Icarus had absolutely no talents and hobbies.

"Daedalus and Icarus". Relief

She secretly freed Pasiphae from the labyrinth of prisoners. And in order to escape from the island, the ingenious master made four huge wings from feathers for himself and his son. With indefatigable zeal, Daedalus tied all kinds of bird feathers, starting with the shortest and gradually ending with the longer ones, fastening them with wax.And when the wings were ready, he, tying them with straps on the shoulders of his son, gave instructions that he should fly without rising too high, so that the wax would not melt from the sun's rays.

Icarus Rise

The careless young man did not obey his father and approached too close to the Sun, the rays of which melted the mountings. Icarus fell and drowned not far from the island of Samos in the sea, which was named in this part of the Ikarian Sea.

The Fall of Icarus. Author: Carlo Saraceni

Did, flying in front, looked around and did not see his son behind him, but only scattered feathers on the crests of sea waves. And then the old man understood everything … Having landed, he waited until the corpse of his son washed ashore and buried it on the island of Dolikha, named after him - Ikaria …

However, the mythical story did not end there. After mourning for his son, Daedalus got to the Sicilian city and asked the local ruler Kokala for shelter from the persecution of the Cretan king. For he, when he learned that his master had fled to Sicily, decided to go after him with a whole army and return him.

For some time the ruler of Sicily dodged, but Minos tricked him into giving up the master, and Kokal had no choice but to agree to give up the fugitive. But before that, inviting the guest to take a bath from the road, he cooked him in boiling water. And Daedalus spent the rest of his life in Sicily.

From generation to generation, legends about the brilliant master Daedalus were passed down, who was able to arrange a wonderful lake in Sicily with a flowing river. And on a high cliff of a cliff, where not a single tree could resist, he built an amazing castle. The ruler Kokal settled in it, where he kept his treasures. Daedalus' third miracle was a deep cave in which he set up underground heating, and he erected an open temple of Aphrodite over the tomb of King Minos of Crete.

Daedalus was truly a great master. But since the death of his son, he was never happy again, despite all his achievements. He lived a lonely old age in sorrow and was buried in Sicily.

Moral of Ancient Greek Myth

Lamentation for Icarus (1898). Posted by Herbert James Draper

The essence of this myth is in the idea of ​​punishing Daedalus, the mediocrity and death of Icarus - also retribution to the father for the crime committed. The goddesses of vengeance needed to arrange everything so that the young man died in exactly the same way as his father killed Talos: that is why he falls from a height. And it is not at all necessary to look for heroism and courage here, this is just a cruel revenge of the gods for the sin of the father.

"Daedalus and Icarus". Posted by Frederick Leighton

That is why the son, against the advice of his father, began to rise to the sun, it was also a childish game, a prank, and not gaining freedom in a fatal flight. This whole beautiful story, very familiar to a wide circle of the public, was invented by writers. They idealized the image of Icarus as a hero, symbolizing the dream of a person to soar into the sky like a bird and soar without feeling heaviness.

Renaissance moralists used this theme of ancient Greek myth in order to teach how dangerous extremes are and how good the virtue of moderation is, and also to warn against human arrogance.

Interpretation of the myth of Icarus and Daedalus in world painting of different eras and directions

Icarus and Daedalus. Jacob Peter Govi “The fall of Icarus. National Museum di Capodimonte, Naples. Author: Carlo Saraceni Icarus and Daedalus. Author: Charles Le Brun "Daedalus and Icarus". Rome, Doria Pamphilj Gallery. Author: Ludovitso Lana "Daedalus and Icarus". Author: Andrea Sacchi "Daedalus and Icarus". Author: Domenico Piola “Daedalus binds the wings of Icarus.” (1777). State Tretyakov Gallery. Author: Sokolov Petr Ivanovich Icarus and Daedalus. Author: Anthony van Dyck "Icarus". Author: Wassily Kandinsky "Icarus". Author: Ilya Glazunov The Fall of Icarus. Author: Marc Chagall The Fall of Icarus. Author: Pablo Picasso

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