Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 8: Daedaulus and Icarus Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Daedaulus grows to hate Crete and wants to return to Athens. Since King Minos has blocked passage to Athens by land and sea, Daedaulus decides to get to Athens by air. He fashions a set of wings out of feathers and wax. While he works, his son Icarus plays curiously with his father’s creation.
Daedalus will not let the great expanse of air between Crete and Athens stop him from travelling back home, showing that he arrogantly believes he can conquer nature and the limitations it sets on him.
Themes
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
When Daedaulus finishes his wings, he puts them on himself and Icarus. He instructs his son not to fly either too close to the sun or too close to the ground. Crying with fear for his son, Daedaulus kisses Icarus, and they take flight. Icarus soon gets adventurous and flies towards the sun. The heat from the sun softens the wax that glues the wings together, and the wings fall off. Icarus flaps his bare arms, then falls, drowning in the sea. Daedaulus sees his son’s wings floating in the water and goes down to bury Icarus’s body.
Daedaulus’s arrogance in creating artificial wings with which to fly to Athens results in the death of his son. In this way, nature proves that it is indomitable. Icarus’s thrill at feeling superhuman is also responsible for his death. Like Phaëthon, the excitement of getting to do something that humans by nature cannot do leads to Icarus’s demise. Both Daedaulus’s and Icarus’s lack of humility have a disastrous consequence.
Themes
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
Gods and Humans Theme Icon