Icarus, the son of Daedalus who created the maze that held the Minotaur was given wings which allowed him to fly away from the Island of Crete. He was told not to fly too near the Sun nor too close to the water, as these wings were driven by the interaction of Sun and Water. He flew too close to the sun, his wings melted, and he fell to the Sea.

What's the moral of this story?


4 Answers 4


I think we can probably rule out the story being warning against flight, being that no one was building aircraft at the time, or for quite some time thereafter.

Icarus's fall is a warning about youthful carelessness, and shows the terrible consequences that can bring.

Diadorus Siculus tells two versions of the story, both of which emphasize the recklessness of Icarus causing his downfall:

But when Icarus was disembarking onto the island in a reckless manner, he fell into the sea and perished
As for Icarus, because of the ignorance of youth he made his flight to far aloft and fell into the sea when the wax which held the wings together was melted by the sun
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4.77.6 and 4.77.9

Similarly, Pausanias speaks of his clumsy navigation:

The ship of Icarus is said to have overturned, as he was a clumsy helmsman. The drowned man was carried ashore by the current to the island
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9.11.5

And Apollodorus refers to him as infatuated, and draws attention to his disregard for his father's instructions:

But the infatuated Icarus, disregarding his father's injunctions, soared ever higher, till, the glue melting, he fell into the sea called after him Icarian, and perished.
Apollodorus Library E.1.13

It would appear that, even 2000 years ago, teenagers thought they were invincible.


I want to give a context interpretation of the myth.

That youth will fly high ignoring advice and takes risks, as the other answer says, is the first level, "listen to your elders".

The long term result, (moral for the present day?) is that this youth is remembered over millennia and his name was given to a sea, so there was some recompense to the bad outcome of the risk.

My main observation is that fortunately for humanity's youth, and people who remain young in mentality, they do take risks. Had Icarus not dared to fly higher than caution, there would have been no myth and no Icarian sea.

Had the wings not melted, (50/50 chance of deterioration?) gliders would have been discovered thousands of years ago).

The present moral should be: listen to your elders precautionary instructions, and use forethought before risk taking. Suppressing risk according to the dictates of the elders would lead to a static society.


The moral of the story is life is a gift, and maintaining a balance with everything in moderation will ensure a long one. The wings represent the father giving his son life; the ocean and the sun represent the extremes of denying and overindulging yourself; flying in between is the answer.


The ancient Greeks of the classical and later periods thought that in the form of the myth of Icarus and Daedalus, the memory of the invention of fore-and-aft rigged sails was preserved - according to a common interpretation, Daedalus and Icarus escaped from Crete just on a ship with fore-and-aft rigged sails, which allow to use not only a tailwind, but also a side and even a headwind. Prior to this invention, only square-rig sails were used. Icarus during the voyage fell overboard and drowned.

Source: Икар (rus)

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