Icarus is seen here in all his powerful strength. He and his father, Daedalus, have managed to flee from the Cretan Labyrinth where they were imprisoned, with the aid of magic wings which they wore attached to their shoulders.
Dali shows a triumphant Icarus, who, disobeying his father’s advice, flies too close to the Sun whose attraction he cannot escape. The wax joining the wings to his body melts and he falls to the sea. He will never return to his native Athens.
In Dali’s sculpture, Icarus is still triumphant, ascending to the Sun, in his thrill everything seems possible, he simply flies, flies, flies…
The myth of Daedalus and Icarus
The myth of Daedalus and Icarus is one of the most known and fascinating Greek Myths, as it consists of both historical and mythical details.
While in Crete, Daedalus created the plan for the Minoan Palace of Knossos, one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete and Greece today. It was a magnificent architectural design and building, of 1,300 rooms, decorated with stunning frescoes and artifacts, saved until today. The sculpture of Ariadne in Knossos and many others in Elounda and Karia are also his.
King Minos asked Daedalus to build him a Labyrinth; a true maze that Minos wanted as prison to the mythical monster Minotaur. According to the myth, King Minos used it to imprison his enemies, making sure that they would be killed by the monster. One of his enemies was Theseus, who had committed the sin of falling in love with Pricess Ariadne. Daedalus advises him to use a thread to find his way out of the maze after killing the Minotaur. When he learns of the betrayal, Minos, infuriated, imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the Labyrinth.
Icarus was the young son of Daedalus and Nafsicrate, one of King Minos’ servants. Daedalus was way too smart and inventive, thus, he started thinking how he and Icarus would escape the Labyrinth. Knowing that his architectural creation was too complicated, he figured out that they could not come out on foot. He also knew that the shores of Crete were perfectly guarded, thus, they would not be able to escape by sea either. The only way left was the air.
Daedalus managed to create gigantic wings, using branches of osier and connected them with wax. He taught Icarus how to fly, but told him to keep away from the sun because the heat would make the wax melt, destroying the wings.
Daedalus and Icarus managed to escape the Labyrinth and flew to the sky, free. The flight of Daedalus and Icarus was the first time that man managed to fight the laws of nature and beat gravity.
Although he was warned, Icarus was too young and too enthusiastic about flying. He got excited by the thrill of flying and carried away by the amazing feeling of freedom and started flying high to salute the sun, diving low to the sea, and then up high again. His father Daedalus was trying in vain to make young Icarus to understand that his behaviour was dangerous, and Icarus soon saw his wings melting. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned. The Icarian Sea, where he fell, was named after him and there is also a nearby small island called Icaria.