Icarus and Daedalus Lesson Plans

The myth of Icarus and Daedalus is a well-known cautionary tale that warns against the perils of “flying too high”. Whether because of its simplicity, its symbolism, or its shockingly tragic ending, the myth remains a classroom favorite and an important cultural reference. Like most myths, the story of Icarus has been told and retold by the Greeks, Romans, and other Western writers throughout the centuries. The version referenced in these lesson plans is the short selection written by Josephine Preston Peabody, commonly included in literature textbooks.

Student Activities for Icarus and Daedalus

The story of Icarus and Daedalus has been revisited in many forms throughout the centuries. The Greeks tell the story in Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca. The Roman version appears in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. More recent tellings of the story include artistic interpretations and poetic explorations of the myth’s themes. In some versions of the myth, Daedalus and his son are imprisoned inside the labyrinth of the dead Minotaur on the island of Crete. Surrounding the labyrinth are King Minos’ many guards. In the version adapted by Josephine Preston Peabody, the father and son are imprisoned in a tall tower on a seemingly deserted island. The focus of the story is not on the imprisonment, but on the escape. To view other artistic interpretations of this myth, visit the pages linked below.

Essential Questions for “Icarus and Daedalus”

  1. What is Icarus’ tragic flaw?
  2. What characteristics typical of Greek myths does this story contain?
  3. What is the symbolic meaning of “flying too high”?
  4. What is the lesson of the myth?
  5. What role does Daedalus play in Icarus’ tragedy? Does he bear any responsibility for Icarus’ fate?

Find more lesson plans and activities like these in our English Language Arts Category!

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