Icarus and His Father

“In high school, I took a Latin class and there they taught us Roman mythology, so one of the stories I remember is the one about Icarus and his dad.  So there was this little boy named Icarus who had the desire to fly.  One day, Icarus made wings of wax with his dad.  When Icarus finally flew with these wings, he ended up flying too close to the sun and since his wings are made of wax, they started melting.  His dad was distraught and already started mourning his son’s death before even trying to help, then Icarus fell to his death, and his dad was just left feeling guilty and depressed.” – Anonymous

As Anonymous was taught this material in a classroom setting, one of my main concerns was the authenticity of this folklore story; however, they were able to retell it sufficiently and pass it on to others orally making it a form of folklore as per the definition utilized in class.  The impact of this story seems to have a deeper meaning and almost a lesson as I started to analyze it in depth.

I started to analyze the symbolism within this story.  As the story’s main character is a little boy, it seems that the lesson is targeted toward younger individuals or individuals to be seen with less power.  The desire to do something beyond them, an achievement that was an indulgence, seemed to be that desire to fly.  With help from an individual who did not even want to help him when his plan succeeded, it then became his downfall, emphasizing the importance of true support and individuals who keep you grounded when certain goals are unrealistic.  Not necessarily saying you shouldn’t reach for them, but maybe smaller steps could be taken or a plan could be organized before rather than going straight into it as growth is not a linear process.  The wings could also be a setback or negative trait as well that individuals will not seek help for and that is why it seemed okay in the beginning, but soon lead to consequences.

I also viewed this story by viewing its connection to Roman mythology and Latin and recognized it may have Catholic or religious influence.  As the Father is the one who gave wings to his son, this could resemble the power of God in giving the gift of life and freedom.  However, how we decide to utilize that gift is in our hands.  As Icarus flew, life was a balance of harmony and bliss; however, his fall was the consequence of misuse of his gift from God.