Study Guide

Daedalus and Icarus

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Why Should I Care?

Make your bed. Eat your veggies. Never invite a vampire into your home (unless, of course, he's an upstanding gentleman like Edward Cullen).

Parents are full of advice. And while some of it is total bunk (fact: you don't need to wait 30 minutes after you've eaten to go swimming—10 minutes is fine), some of it is spot-on. That triple axel you did while rollerblading? Probably not worth the broken arm. And that extra scoop of ice cream you ate for dessert? A steep price to pay for the terrible stomach ache you ended up with. As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes parents are right.

Unfortunately for Icarus—the son of genius inventor Daedalus—ignoring his dad's words of wisdom came with catastrophic consequences. Before embarking on a father/son hang gliding adventure with a pair of wax wings, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high. Icarus obeyed his father's advice for a little while, but eventually he soared too close to the sun, and his wings melted like M&Ms in your mouth. Oops.

So yeah, this is an age-old tale of parents always know best. But don't worry, it's not just boring adult stuff. With its dangerous journey and clever solutions to tricky problems, the tale of Daedalus and Icarus reads like a really intense episode of the Amazing Race… except with a much more tragic ending.

Best of the Web

Daedalus and Icarus Resources

Movie or TV Productions

Trekkie Tribute
"Daedalus" is the name of a 2005 episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. The plot focuses on an inventor named Dr. Emory Emerson who visits the spaceship. Sounds about right.

The Jim Henson Treatment
The Daedalus and Icarus myth was dramatized by Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Greek Myths series. It's not The Muppets, but we'll take what we can get.


Daedalus in Space
The Daedalus Encounter was a video game and "interactive movie" from 1995. It was set in outer space, and featured a space ship named Daedalus. What is it with this guy and outer space?


Check out this pretty fantastic stop-motion Lego version of the myth. We dare you to top this.

Paper Cutouts with a Steampunk Vibe
Someone accepted our dare. Here's another cool stop-motion video of the myth, this time using paper cutouts.

Steampunk Version #2
And here's a slightly darker, more depressing adaptation of the myth. Watch at your own risk.


70s Rock Meets Greek Myth
The (awesome) song "Carry On My Wayward Son" by the 70s band Kansas draws on this high-flying myth. Here's a sample lyric for you: "I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high."

Folk Music Melody
The English folk band Death in June (yikes) penned a song about the myth. It's sad and folksy—what a combo.

Icarus Is Everywhere
Contemporary artists such as U2, Bon Iver, Ani DiFranco, and Regina Spektor have all mentioned Icarus or his "wings of wax" in various songs. Way to be super-famous, Icarus.


Greek Name, Irish Novels
If you're up for some serious reading, check out James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. Both books feature a character named Stephen Dedalus, a young writer whose name pays homage to Daedalus, the ultimate artist and craftsman.

Trekked Out
Sci-fi fans rejoice! A two-part Star Trek series called Daedalus exists: it's about Starfleet's first warp 5 vessel (named Daedalus).

Images & Artwork (Copyrighted and Unsure)

Music Meets Metal
The sculptor Simon Benetton crafted large metal wings called Ikarus 1993. They sit outside the Bonn Opera in Germany. And they're awesome.

Ancient Myths in Public Spaces
American artist Roger Brown created a mural of Daedalus and Icarus over an entrance to a skyscraper at 120 North LaSalle in Chicago. What do you think of this modern take?

A Jazz Impression
In 1947, the French artist Henri Matisse included this playful rendition of Icarus falling in his book "Jazz." Pretty cool, right?

Keeping it Old School
This ancient fresco from a wall in Pompeii depicts the fall of Icarus. This story has been around forever.

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