Daedalus and Icarus by Anthony Van Dyck; Wikimedia Commons

Daedalus and Icarus by Anthony Van Dyck; Wikimedia Commons

The Plan to Escape

This is the story of Icarus, one of my favorites in Greek mythology.

King Minos of Crete commissioned Daedalus, a master craftsman who also happened to be Icarus’ father, to build a prison from which no one could escape. Minos’ goal was to incarcerate the Minotaur. Daedalus obliged and created an elaborate labyrinth with so many twists and turns that it was impossible to find your way out once you were inside.  But then the tables turned against Daedalus, and he and his son, Icarus, were thrown into the labyrinth as its prisoners.

Refusing to submit to captivity, the ever-enterprising Daedalus planned his escape.  He constructed a wooden frame and by using wax as the adhesive, he glued feathers to the frame to create two pairs of wings, one for himself and one for his son.  The plan was to escape the labyrinth by flight.

Before giving Icarus his wings, Daedalus warned his son to maintain an even balance between the sea and the sun. “If you fly too close to the sea,” he cautioned him, “the waves will drench your wings and you’ll drown. If you fly too close to the sun, the heat will melt the wax on your wings.  You’ll lose your feathers, and you’ll drown.”

Icarus was young and brash, and like most young and brash people, he paid little attention to his father’s words.  He was itching to try on his wings and escape from the labyrinth.

In Part 2 we'll see the impact of hubris.

AuthorTamara Agha-Jaffar