Greek: Daedalus and Icarus

Daedalus had built the labyrinth for King Minos of Crete, but the king refused to let Daedalus leave the island, holding him prisoner there together with his young son, Icarus. Daedalus, however, was determined to escape. Using his skills as a craftsman, he built two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers.

"My son," he said, "we will use these wings to make our escape."

Icarus was amazed. "Father," he exclaimed, "do you mean that we will fly in the sky like birds?"

"Yes," Daedalus replied, "but you must not fly too high! If you get too close to the sun, the wax will melt. Just stay close to me, and we will reach the mainland together safely."

Next, Daedalus bound the wings tightly to his son's body and then attached his own pair of wings. Without delay, they leaped from a high tower and found themselves soaring up into the sky. Icarus shrieked with delight. Flying was the most exciting thing he had ever done! At first, he tried to stay close to his father, but he could not resist the temptation to fly higher and higher, testing the power of his wings.

Then, just as his father had predicted, the heat of the sun started to melt the wax of the wings. It all happened so quickly that Icarus had no time to react. One minute he was soaring like a bird high in the sky, and the next minute he was plunging downwards. With a loud splash, he hit the water and drowned, while his poor father screamed out his name, "Icarus! Icarus!"

Sadly, Daedalus flew onwards to the mainland, but he cursed the sun above and the waters below which had so cruelly deprived him of his son.




(The Fall of Icarus, a 17th-century relief sculpture)

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