Icarus: According to Ovid

Ovid’s full name was “Publius Ovidius Naso”, and he was and perhaps still is one of the most often imitated, and admired poets of the Roman era. He composed many works in his time, and was counted among the top minds, such as Virgil, and Horace. However, unlike his colleagues, Ovid was more romantic; his verses revolved around love, abandoned women, and of course, mythological transformations; i.e., the Metamorphoses. His proclivities in writing even earned him the medieval Latin title, “magister amoris” or, master of love. Ovid was one of the many classical poets who took the story of Icarus and infused it with philosophical morality, referencing it often alongside the efforts of young would-be heroes.

Ovid’s interpretation of Icarus, like others that would follow him, or even his literary predecessors, was to transform Icarus into a symbolic character that embodied heroic audacity. They also put their selves in the place of Icarus, as a metaphor for their own poetic aspirations. Many poets, perhaps not as much today, as was in the medieval era, flaunt their own hypocritical nature as writers, owning that it was the way of the writers of romance to embrace a double standard. At the same time, to feel remorse for their own inefficiencies; Icarus became a perfect symbolic metaphor for the poet: flying high, only to fall, without successfully, –at least in their eyes, –accomplishing a literary goal. Ovid became a source for ever-transforming Icarus references in his work, and the ideals he set into circulation spread outward, and around, influencing great minds throughout Europe.

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