Why I Think Icarus is Inspiring Rather Than A Warning
In the epic Ovid's tale of Daedalus and Icarus, master craftsman, Daedalus is imprisoned with his son, Icarus, and orchestrates an escape using feathers and wax to make wings. To sum it up, they do escape, but Icarus ignores his father’s warning of not flying too high and ends up being punished by the sun god, who melts the wax causing Icarus to fall to his death. The morals of this story are; to obey your father, do as you are told, play it safe, and don’t try to emulate the gods.
Why Being too Obedient is a Bad Thing?
Having too much of anything in this world is a bad thing. Balance in all things exists for a reason, and whenever things are out of balance, there will be chaos. Being too obedient is dangerous, even in the safest of spaces. It means you have given up all right to question, and that should only be given to a trusted higher power.
Even God allows you to question His purpose, so why should you give it up to a man. Doing as you are told is only relevant to enslaved people and robots and even now, AI is beginning to question its purpose. Whenever you cannot do as you wish, and need the approval to move, think and speak, you are no longer free.
No matter how freeing the cage may seem, once absolute obedience is required to live within that space, you are a slave. And although in the father-son dynamic of Daedalus and Icarus, some form of trust and obedience should exist, it doesn’t explain the sun-god. He chose to direct his rays to Icarus rather than dimming his light for them to escape because he believed Icarus should know his place.
Should Icarus have known his place?
And was murder necessary for the lesson?
And who’s hubris do you believe is greater? Icarus or the sun god, Helios.
Even though they were flying free of the king, they were still in an extended prison since Helios restricted flying. And they needed to obey him to gain their freedom. Besides, what’s wrong with testing your limits?
Why the Warnings of Icarus are Only Relevant to Children
Many parents believe in the sort of rule Helios, and the King of Minotaur was about. Daedalus, however, wasn’t so stern in his warnings. In hindsight, he may even blame himself for Icarus not listening.
And in a way, he could. Icarus at that age should have some sort of trust and respect for his father, who was trying to save both of them, but he did not. And that reeks of something missing in his upbringing.
This is why teaching your kids to reason from a young age is important. You don’t want kids to blindly obey and don’t want them to only listen when it suits them. You need them to reason the situation out for themselves and arrive at practical solutions.
Daedalus was the genius who built the labyrinth, and yet his son couldn’t see the reasoning behind his warning. Had Daedalus built a foundation of trust and reasoning, the story may have ended differently. Children need to be able to obey in times of crisis blindly, and by creating safe spaces for them to test their limits, parents encourage creativity and analytical and critical thinking skills.
There’s always a price for what you want. — Steve Perry
What Inspiration You Should Take From this Ovid Tale
People think the story of Icarus is a cautionary tale, but I see it as an inspiring story of achieving greatness. Think about it. I couldn’t remember the name of the father, but I did remember Icarus. His father was a great inventor, but Icarus is the name that comes quickly to mind.
Because even though Icarus failed spectacularly, he still went higher than any human being. There will always be inventors, but only one Icarus. One person who went beyond human capabilities.
And this is how we should approach everything we do. Test our limits and aspire to our greatest self. We may fail spectacularly, but we won’t be forgotten, and we won’t live with regrets.
As inflation, war and disease spread across the globe, do you really believe you have all the time in the world to live the life of your dreams? If you don’t take the chance now, when? Or are you planning to stay obedient, swallow your desires, and be forgotten?