Icarus: The Moral of the Story

Later on, many Greek philosophers sought to make the story of Icarus a bit more realistic, in order to remove the heavy metaphorical meaning to the story that seems laden with caution. They still needed a story behind the naming of the Icarian Sea, and the island Icaria nearby, however. So the story became more mundane; during Daedalus’s escape from Crete by boat, Icarus was said to have only fallen overboard and drowned. This version is the practical alternative to the morally laden classic tale of Icarus and his wings of wax. So what is the moral, that keeps bringing so many poets, and writers back to it?

Youth, and the ease in which dying is possible? Perhaps. With great joy, soon comes great sorrow? A little closer. The meaning is bit more complex than what can be surmised into just a few words. The fact that Daedalus, the older and more experienced character never strayed from the path of safety, indicates that the moral is mainly concerned with youth. The fact that Icarus later paid no heed to his father’s warnings also indicates that the moral isn’t pleasant, and part of the meaning is derived from the fickleness of youth. The young and impulsive soon become the young and crestfallen, if not dead.

There are plenty of more verbose, and eloquently polished ways of tuning the moral into prose. The point of the story is that it is while flying, we are overjoyed, enraptured, and careless. Whether this is from love, success, or even drugs, impulsive and irresponsible happiness, usually comes to an abrupt end, if you don’t open your eyes, and look around once in a while.

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