Greek Mortal


The Lament for Icarus by Herbert James Draper

The Lament for Icarus by Herbert James Draper (1898)

Tate Britain, LondonPublic Domain


Icarus was the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, born on Crete and imprisoned alongside his father in the Labyrinth by King Minos. Daedalus fashioned wings from bird feathers and wax to enable him and Icarus to fly to freedom. But Icarus, despite his father’s warnings, flew too close to the sun; the wax of his wings melted, and he plummeted to his death.

The sad tale of Icarus’ fall has greatly intrigued poets and artists, both classical and modern. Though the ancients interpreted the myth in various ways, it is now most commonly viewed as a cautionary tale—a warning of the dangers of letting one’s ambition soar too high.[1]