A Dangerous Consequence of Flying High: Icarus and Many Related Stories

A Dangerous Consequence of Flying High: Icarus And Many Related Stories

In this article, we will discuss not only the story of Icarus but also many mythological stories. To be honest, this was the article that I had the most difficulty in determining the title among all the articles I wrote so far. It was not possible to fit the topics of this article into one sentence. There are many interesting stories. However, since all the stories are interconnected, I gathered them under a single roof, believing that it would be more efficient to collect them in one article instead of telling them in separate articles. Let’s get started without further ado!

Now, since it will be a long article consisting of many characters, let’s get to know our main characters first:

Daidalos: The architect who built the Labyrinth.

Icarus: Son of Daedalus.

Theseus: The hero who killed the Minotaur. Heir to Athens. Ariadne’s lover.

Minos: King of Crete.

Ariadne: Minos’ daughter. Lover of Theseus.

Aegeus: King of Athens. Father of Theseus.

Poseidon: God of the seas, earthquakes, and horses.

Eros: The god of love.

Minotaur: A dangerous creature that is half human, half bull. He is the son of Minos’ wife.

What is Maze?

Yes, let’s start our story from the very beginning, with the construction of the labyrinth. The King of Crete, Minos, asked Daidalos, the most talented architect of the period, to build a place. Let this place be such a complex place that anyone who enters it cannot get out. Let’s cram the most dangerous and the biggest criminals here. A prison that gives hope to escape, but from which escape is impossible. Daidalos makes just such a place and calls it labyrínthos. The word “labyrinth” that we use in our daily language comes from this story.

The Beginning of Disasters: Too Cute Bull

The King of Crete, Minos, asks Poseidon, the god of the seas, earthquakes, and horses, to send a bull to sacrifice to him in order to prove his strength and show off. Poseidon gives the king the bull he wants. However, this bull likes King Minos so much that he does not want to kill it. This too-cute-to-kill bull will be the beginning of disasters. King Minos hides the sweet bull sent by the god Poseidon and instead sacrifices another bull for Poseidon. He thinks that this situation will not be understood by Poseidon. But God soon realizes Minos’ disrespect. To punish this injustice of Minos, God goes to Eros, the God of Love, and starts his cruel plan. Upon Poseidon’s request, Eros fires the arrow of love at Minos’ wife. At the other end of this love arrow stands the bull that Minos hides.


So, Poseidon makes Minos’ wife fall in love with the bull. The eyes of Minos’ wife are now blinded by love. In order to be with the bull, the architect asks Daedalus to design a special hiding mechanism. When it comes to the king’s wife, the architect goes to work without questioning the situation and creates a life-size hollow cow. This cow costume, which completely adapts to the body of the king’s wife, is too perfect to be noticed from the outside. One day when the king’s wife wears this costume, she falls under a love spell and makes love to the bull. As a result of this sexual intercourse, one of the most dangerous creatures in history is born. Half human half bull creature: Minotaur

Fruit of Forbidden Love: Minotaur

When Minos finds out about this, of course, he gets very angry. But this creature, half human half bull, is his stepson. He doesn’t want to kill him. By the way, the Minotaur is also called “Minos’s Bull”. But he has to do something about it. The Minotaur is dangerous, and his being out is causing unrest throughout Crete. Finally, Minos makes his decision. He traps this creature in a labyrinth designed by Daedalus, from which no one can escape.

Recently, Minos is devastated by another piece of news. One of his sons was killed by the Athenians. Minos, who fought with the Athenians after this event, does not only win this war, but he also has them sign a cruel treaty. Every nine years, the Athenians must now send 14 Athenians, seven virgins and seven young men, to Crete to be sacrificed for the Minotaur.


The Birth of a Hero: Theseus

Theseus is the son of King Aegeus of Athens. He was never satisfied with the treaty they had to sign as a result of the war they lost. He refused to allow 14 Athenians to be sent to Crete to be brutally sacrificed every nine years. After he became a young boy, he talks to his father and says he wants to volunteer to be sent as one of these 14 people. He believes he will enter the maze and kill the Minotaur and put an end to this sacrificial nonsense. Father Aegeus, who has to reluctantly accept, makes a small request from his son in order to get news from him as soon as possible. If the return of the expedition is successful, Theseus will have a white sail on the ship. But if it fails, this time the crew will equip the ship with black sails for this mourning.

String of Ariadne

The time comes for Theseus and 13 other Athenians to go to Crete. When Theseus arrives, he meets the beautiful Ariadne and falls in love with her. Ariadne is the daughter of King Minos. She realizes that entering the labyrinth will be an irreversible journey, and she cannot accept her lover’s blatant death. Even if Thesus manages to get there and kill the Minotaur, it’s a one-way ticket. It is not possible for the departed to return. To find a solution to this situation, Ariadne talks to the architect Daidalos and has a long rope made. Ariadne gives her rope to Thesus and asks him to take it wherever he goes, starting at the entrance of the labyrinth. Eventually, Thesus would be able to trace the rope back to find the entrance and get out of the labyrinth unscathed.

Ariadne’s Thread

The Thread of Ariadne is one of the most powerful symbols of Greek Mythology. It has found its place in many stories today or has been referred to. Sometimes this thread is thought of as getting the support of an outside guide in a situation that one cannot get out of. Sometimes it tells us that we can take a step back and look at our mistakes and find solutions in other ways. In fact, Ariadne’s thread is frequently used way as a problem-solving method. This method is used to find the right path, especially in maze puzzles. When a fork in the road is reached, a random road is chosen and if that road is a dead end, we returned to the fork in the road. Then go the other way and repeat this method, eventually reaching the exit. What makes Ariadne’s thread method different is that the goal is not just to find the exit. The main goal is to be able to draw a picture of the entire labyrinth. It aims to light the lamps of the labyrinth rather than show the exit of the labyrinth with glowing arrows.

Ariadne İp

Death of the Minotaur and Daedalus the Scapegoat

Theseus’ plan goes exactly as he wishes. He enters the maze, kills the Minotaur, and easily exits the maze using Ariadne’s thread. Then he takes Ariadne, the daughter of the King of Crete, and sets off for Athens. King Minos, who is quite disturbed by this situation, chooses Daedalos and his son Icarus as the scapegoat. He traps them in the labyrinth. The labyrinth is so complicated that Daedalos can’t find the way out, even though he made it himself. But Daedalos is a clever man. A solution comes to mind.

Breaking the Limits of Freedom: The Fall of Icarus

Daidalos goes up to the tower part of the labyrinth and sets out to implement his crazy idea. He collects the feathers that fall from the birds that come to the tower every day. By combining these feathers with wax, he makes a pair of wings for himself and his son. Wearing these wings, father and son escape from the labyrinth by jumping from the window of the tower. Before this escape, the father Daedalos turns to his son Icarus and says: “You should avoid pleasure while flying. If you get too close to the Sun in the euphoria of flying, your wax wings will melt. If you go too close to the ground, this time it will become moisty and heavy. That’s why you have to fly in a balanced way.

The Lament for Icarus - Herbert Draper
The Lament for Icarus – Herbert Draper
Image Source: Wikipedia

Icarus gets too caught up in the freedom of wings and forgets his father’s words. Icarus, whose wings melted when he got too close to the Sun, fell into the Aegean Sea and lost his life. The area said to have fallen is the Ikaria Region, and the island close to it is called Ikaria Island.

Speaking of the Aegean Sea…

Meanwhile, the cruise of Theseus, who leaves Crete and goes to Athens, does not go well. During some part of the journey, they stop at Naxos Island. After this break is over, there was no Ariadne on board. Some legends say that Theseus “forgot” Ariadne on the island. Others write that Theseus deliberately left Ariadne on the island because he saw her as a traitor who betrayed her own country. There are many different stories about why Theseus left Ariadne. What they all have in common is that Theseus returned to Athens without Ariadne. Ariadne, on the other hand, dies of grief, according to many sources.


Theseus’ “forgetfulness” is not limited to the woman he loves. Of course, this is not an acceptable situation, but there is another forgetfulness that will cause an even bigger problem. Theseus forgets the conversation he had with his father before he left. The promise in which he says that if he succeeds he will sail white, but if he fails, the crew will return with black sails. Theseus forgets to change the sails of the ship. This forgetfulness costs him. The sails of the ship remain black and are not turned white. Theseus’ father, the King of Athens, Aegeus, sees the ship from afar. Black is bad news. He thinks his son is dead and does not want to live with this pain. He commits suicide by jumping into the sea. This sea is named “Aegean Sea” after King Aegeus.

Speaking of Theseus and his ship, it is useful to examine this hero’s famous thought experiment. If you like this story, we recommend you to read another interesting story: A Paradox Series: The Ship of Theseus.

References and Further Reading

Minotaur: Beast of ancient Greek and Roman mythology . archaeophile. (2020, August 19). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, August 30). Minotaur. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, August 31). Icarus _ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, September 17). Daedalus. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, September 18). Theseus. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Wikimedia Foundation. (n.d.). Ariadne. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from,_Labirent_ve_Minotor.

Images not cited are used through Canva Pro with a royalty payment.

The proofreading has been done by Asu Pelin Akköse and Mete Esencan.

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Mete Esencan

Hello everyone! I'm Mete Esencan. I am a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at METU. I was planning to establish a platform by combining the research knowledge I gained during my basic science education and the management experience I gained in the METU Chemistry Society, which I was in charge of for three years. For this purpose, in February of 2021, I took the first step and established the OkButWhy, a platform where we can write articles as if to chat about science, art and philosophy. I wish everyone a pleasant reading!

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