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In Greek Mythology, Who Was Icarus?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 23, 2024
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Icarus, a cast member within the players of Greek Mythology, is known for his fantastic descent. Daedalus, Icarus’ father, fell under the wrath of Minos, who faulted Daedalus with the death of his daughter. In his rage, Minos such Daedalus and Icarus into a Labyrinth which had been built to contain monsters. But Daedalus, who was the architect of the Labyrinth, was known for being a cunning craftsman.

The story of Icarus life and dramatic death is wrapped up in his father’s craftsmanship. In order to escape the Labyrinth, Daedalus made a set of wings for his son and himself. The wings were crafted from wax and feathers. With the wings, the father and son were able to fly out of the Labyrinth to freedom. Before alighting, Daedalus gave his son a serious warning. He told him not to fly too close to the sun. If he were to do so, Daedalus explained, the wax that held his wings together would melt, rendering them useless, and Icarus would fall from the sky to his death.

Icarus, however, was overcome by the incredible feeling of flight. He was so taken by the experience, that he flew higher and higher. He flew so high that he got perilously close to the sun. Just as his father warned him would happen, the wax on his wings melted into a useless liquid. The wings fell to pieces and Icarus fell from the sky. The water into which Icarus is said to have fallen is near Icaria, a Grecian Island in the Aegean Sea. The island is named for the legendary flying man. Icaria is southwest of the island of Samos.

The tale of Icarus has been the subject of numerous poems, stories, and paintings. He is especially apparent in poems and paintings from the Renaissance era. Icarus is seen as a symbol of heroic audacity. But Icarus has been invoked for other purposes as well. In fact, he has become a sort of mascot for a modern organization. The Icarus Project, the tag line for which is “Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness,” is an organization for individuals living with bipolar disorder and related mental illnesses. The organization is named for Icarus, because bipolar disorder is characterized by incredible peaks of inspiration and joy which are followed by shockingly low valleys of depression.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By anon154246 — On Feb 20, 2011

Does anyone know when this myth first appeared? The earliest date for this myth? Thanks.

By anon44628 — On Sep 09, 2009

Ikarus is the greek name, both are correct.

By imrabi08 — On Oct 10, 2008

is the spelling IKARUS correct? or it is icarus?

By jamesjim — On May 13, 2008

I seem to remember a picture/story book of Roman Mythology illustrating Icarus and many others at a grade school level...wish I could read that book today.

By anon12707 — On May 12, 2008

1. Who is he?

2. Where did he live?

3. What time frame did he live in?

4. What did he wish?

5. Why do you think he wished this?

6. What was the outcome of his actions?

7. What lesson did he learn?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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