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 here is the short selection written by Josephine Preston Peabody, commonly included in literature textbooks.
Icarus and sun - Icarus and Phaethon Comparison Graphic Organizer
Both Phaëthon and Icarus are young sons of important men. Phaëthon is the son of the god, Apollo, while Icarus is the son of Daedalus, a clever, mortal inventor. Neither boy achieves much in life. Both are famous for their failures rather than their accomplishments.
Even the immortal gods could not drive my chariot. How then can you? Be wise and make some other choice.
You must not fly too high or too low, my son.
Phaethon and Icarus share the tragic flaws of heedlessness and hubris. Both fail to listen to the good advice of their parents. Phaëthon ignores his father's urging not to drive his sun chariot; Icarus forgets his father's direction not to fly to close to the sun. Their heedless disregard for their parents' wisdom is tragic. Both characters are brought low by hubris. Phaëthon's pride is obvious in his arrogant demand to take on the role of a god. Icarus' hubris is more symbolic; flying too high represents human ambition that has gone too far. In trying to fly, Icarus and his father make themselves more powerful than humans are meant to be. The recognition that man was not intended to fly is further suggested by Daedalus' gesture of leaving the wings in the temple of Apollo.
Both boys plummet to their deaths as a result of their own mistakes. Phaethon dies when Zeus throws a thunderbolt at him to stop him from destroying the earth in Apollo's sun chariot. He falls to earth in a ball of fire. Icarus dies when the wax melts from his manufactured wings and he falls like lead into the sea below, eventually drowning.