Deborah Darling Gray – Artist

Painting/Tempera Paint, Collage, Writer, Teacher

The Story of Icarus

Icarus | by Deborah Darling Gray
Icarus became famous as the boy who flew too close to the sun. He grew up with his father Daedalus on the island of Crete. The island was ruled by King Minos who was famous for keeping a monster – half bull, half human, called the Minotaur.

When the Minotaur was born King Minos did not kill him. He had Daedalus, a great architect, construct a place of confinement for him from which escape was impossible. Dadelus built the Labyrinth. Once inside, one would go endlessly along its twisting paths without ever finding the exit. The evil king kept prisoners in the labyrinth.

One day the king discovered a prisoner had escaped and reasoned that he could only have done so if Daedalus had helped him. Accordingly he imprisoned him and his son Icarus in the Labyrinth. But the great inventor was not at a loss. He told his son:

Escape may be checked by water and land, but the air and the sky are free!

Daedalus made a pair of wings for them. Just before they took flight he warned Icarus to keep a middle course over the sea. If he flew too high the sun might melt the glue and the wings would drop off. However, the delight of this wonderful power of flight went to the boy’s head. Up and Up Icarus soared. Then he fell. The wings had come off. Icarus dropped into the sea drowned.


Brave boy
Foolish boy
Given the tools to fly
He brought himself down

Icarus fled the labyrinth
With his father Daedalus –
A clever man whose great design
Imprisoned a monster and
Enabled them to flee

But as they reached the sun
One fell
And the other flew to freedom

Generally this myth is interpreted as a cautionary tale – he who soars is often brought down by “hubris” – a combination of pride and youthful enthusiasm.

I thought another interpretation would note freedom often comes with very steep and unexpected costs even a genius cannot anticipate.