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The Fall of Icarus – Why it is not a tragedy

The greatest tragedy of them all Is never to feel the burning light.

Oscar Wilde

In Greek mythology, Icarus was the son of the famous craftsman Daedalus, who created the labyrinth located under the court of King Minos of Crete. In that labyrinth, lived the half man – half bull creature “Minotaur”

To keep the secret of the labyrinth, king Minos imprisoned both Daedalus and Icarus, on a top of a tall tower, situated in an island, where they were to remain for the rest of their lives.

Daedalus, who was still a genius inverter, found a way for their escapade, while observing a flock of birds. 

They would fly away from the prison; as only birds, or Gods can do.

Using the feathers from the flocks that landed on the tower and the wax from candles, Daedalus created two pairs of giant wings. As he strapped two wings to his son, he gave him a clear advice.

“Don’t fly too low and don’t fly too high.

Flying too close to the ocean, would dampen the wings and would make it too heavy to fly. Flying closer to sun, would melt the wax and would disintegrate the wings. 

Either way you would surely die”

With that, both father and son escaped the prison, flying away, using their giant wings. Daedalus stayed closer to the midway course. But further they flew, Icarus gained more confidence. And that soon turned into over confidence. 

 He flew higher and higher, overwhelmed by the ecstasy of flight, and the devine power that came with it. And Daedalus could only watch in dismay, unable to change his son’s dire fate. 

Heat of the sun melted the wax of his wings and Icarus fell from the sky and plunged into the Sea, dying from the impact.

What seems to be the moral of the story

On very basic level, this story teaches about the importance of listening to our elders. And the consequences of carelessness of the youth. And the destructiveness and the addictiveness of the power. 

And most specifically the importance of the moderation; flying on the midway course. Because too much or too less of anything could affect negatively on oneself. That is a quite questionable theory. But anyway that’s what the story want to teach us. 

But when you go deeper and deeper into the moral of the story, it talks about the extreme consequence of defying the laws of the nature.

Using “Fear” as a weapon to stop a rebellion.

The tragedy of Icarus is also considered by many as a punishment of Gods. In the eyes of Gods, men were never meant to fly. And to elevate themselves; the level of Gods, they had to punish both Icarus, who payed with his life and Daedalus, who payed with the life time of regret. 

Here the “Gods” represent the “ways of the world”; social norms, limitations. And when you defy them, you meet with extreme consequence, just like Icarus did. You are not to go beyond the ways of the world. 

The story is clearly a myth. A made up story. For what? To use the fear to prevent us from going against the social norms, rebelling against the implanted laws and limitations.

What if Icarus is the narrator?

The story was on third person narrative. And there was no mention of what Icarus actually felt while flying. 

The story introduce Icarus as a cocky, arrogant, fool, a greedy man. But what if he was merely intrigued by the beauty and the wonder of the sun? 

Icarus was trying to escape from a violent fate on the island of Crete. Escape takes many forms. For some freedom is merely physical. Icarus was no longer trapped behind bars or locked in a tower, but he still wanted more. He reaches for the sun because it burned brighter and more purely than anything he had ever seen before. Maybe he was an idealist, not an egotist.

What if Icarus was just passionate? He gave his life to achieve his dreams. What if, to him, reaching the sun was worth any cost?

 It must have made him forget everything else. At the moment, the sun might have been the only thing that existed for Icarus, and he had no desire for the rest of the world.

I can’t imagine that Icarus regretted flying too high. Maybe he didn’t touch the sun, but he got closer than any man ever had before. And as he conquered the skies, he stepped into the territory of Gods. His flight was revolutionary.

 He did fall, but for a few moments, maybe…just maybe he was truly alive.

What do you think about what Icarus did? Was it foolish that he wanted to touch the sun? 

What would you to if you were Icarus?

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