THE MYTH OF DAEDALUS AND ICARUS

- By Ovid
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Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (Latin: [ˈpuːblɪ.ʊs ɔˈwɪd̪ɪ.ʊs ˈnaːsoː]; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid (/ˈɒvɪd/ OV-id),[1] was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature. The Imperial scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the Latin love elegists.[2] Although Ovid enjoyed enormous popularity during his lifetime, the emperor Augustus banished him to a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained until his death. The first major Roman poet to begin his career during the reign of Augustus,[3] Ovid is today best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, and for works in elegiac couplets such as Ars Amatoria ("The Art of Love") and Fasti. His poetry was much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and greatly influenced Western art and literature. The Metamorphoses remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology.[4]

THE MYTH OF DAEDALUS AND ICARUS

"Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" by Pieter Bruegel is in the public domain.

FROM METAMORPHOSES, BOOK VIII:

Meanwhile Daedalus, hating Crete, and his long exile, and filled with a desire to stand on his native soil, was imprisoned by the waves.'He may thwart our escape by land or sea' he said 'but the sky is surely open to us: we will go that way: Minos rules everything but he does not rule the heavens.' So saying he applied his thought to new invention and altered the natural order of things. He laid down lines of feathers, beginning with the smallest, following the shorter with longer ones, so that you might think they had grown like that, on a slant. In that way, long ago, the rustic pan-pipes were graduated, with lengthening reeds. Then he fastened them together with thread at the middle, and beeswax at the base, and, when he had arranged them, he flexed each one into a gentle curve, so that they imitated real bird's wings. His son, Icarus, stood next to him, and, not realising that he was handling things that would endanger him, caught laughingly at the down that blew in the passing breeze, and softened the yellow beeswax with his thumb, and, in his play, hindered his father's marvellous work.

When he had put the last touches to what he had begun, the artificer balanced his own body between the two wings and hovered in the moving air. He instructed the boy as well, saying 'Let me warn you, Icarus, to take the middle way, in case the moisture weighs down your wings, if you fly too low, or if you go too high, the sun scorches them. Travel between the extremes. And I order you not to aim towards Bootes, the Herdsman, or Helice, the Great Bear, or towards the drawn sword of Orion: take the course I show you!' At the same time as he laid down the rules of flight, he fitted the newly created wings on the boy's shoulders. While he worked and issued his warnings the ageing man's cheeks were wet with tears: the father's hands trembled.

He gave a never to be repeated kiss to his son, and lifting upwards on his wings, flew ahead, anxious for his companion, like a bird, leading her fledglings out of a nest above, into the empty air. He urged the boy to follow, and showed him the dangerous art of flying, moving his own wings, and then looking back at his son. Some angler catching fish with a quivering rod, or a shepherd leaning on his crook, or a ploughman resting on the handles of his plough, saw them, perhaps, and stood there amazed, believing them to be gods able to travel the sky.

And now Samos, sacred to Juno, lay ahead to the left (Delos and Paros were behind them), Lebinthos, and Calymne,rich in honey, to the right, when the boy began to delight in his daring flight, and abandoning his guide, drawn by desire for the heavens, soared higher. His nearness to the devouring sun softened the fragrant wax that held the wings: and the wax melted: he flailed with bare arms, but losing his oar-like wings, could not ride the air. Even as his mouth was crying his father's name, it vanished into the dark blue sea, the Icarian Sea, called after him. The unhappy father, now no longer a father, shouted 'Icarus, Icarus where are you? Which way should I be looking, to see you?' 'Icarus' he called again. Then he caught sight of the feathers on the waves, and cursed his inventions. He laid the body to rest, in a tomb, and the island was named Icaria after his buried child.

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Additional Information:

Words: 1190

Unique Words : 308

Sentences : 24

Reading Time : 2:44

Noun : 180

Conjunction : 55

Adverb : 33

Interjection : 1

Adjective : 45

Pronoun : 70

Verb : 105

Preposition : 70

Letter Count : 2,575

Sentiment : Positive

Tone : Neutral (Slightly Conversational)

Difficult Words : 143

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