Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Icarus and Daedalus

        | HSW

Icarus and Daedalus Part II
Daedalus made a smaller set of wings for his son.
Daedalus made a smaller set of wings for his son.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Below is the second part of "Icarus and Daedalus."

"Stop, Father! Make my wings now!" Icarus begged.

Daedalus took his wings off and made a smaller set of wings for his son. Again he used wax to fasten many of the feathers. Then he tied the wings to Icarus.

"Just watch me first," said Daedalus to his son. "I'll try out the wings. If they work well, we'll both practice flying together."

Daedalus spread his wings, flapped them once, and caught the wind. Out he soared from the tower, lifting and falling on the air currents like a bird.

Icarus thought his father looked like a god as he flew through the air. The boy couldn't wait any longer to fly himself.

Icarus stood on tiptoe at the edge of the tower, flapped his wings, and took off. He swooped and soared, like his father. As he flew, he shouted for joy. "I'm a bird! I'm a god!" he cried.

"Icarus! Go back!" shouted Daedalus. "Go back to the tower!"

Daedalus landed on the rooftop and called again to Icarus, "Come back!"

The boy circled around the tower twice and did a somersault in the air, before he came back to where his father stood.

"Son, we have much to learn about flying. And you have much to learn about obeying your father!" said Daedalus. "We will have to practice to become strong and skillful enough to fly all the way across the Aegean," Daedalus explained.

Daedalus and Icarus practiced flying every day.
Daedalus and Icarus practiced flying every day.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Daedalus and Icarus practiced flying every day. Their muscles became strong. When Daedalus judged that he and Icarus were ready to make the long trip over the sea, he sat Icarus down.

"Son, it is important that you heed my words. If you fly too low, too close to the waves," Daedalus explained, "your feathers will get wet. Then, your wings will be too heavy to fly."

"And if you fly too high," Daedalus went on, "the heat of the sun will melt the wax that holds your wings together."

"I understand, Father," said Icarus, but he was barely listening.

No sooner had his father finished telling Icarus not to fly too low or too high, than the boy ran to the very edge of the rooftop and leapt off. He flapped his outspread wings and headed for the sea with Daedalus close behind him.

Icarus wanted to fly up to where the gods lived.
Icarus wanted to fly up to where the gods lived.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

When the two reached the blue Aegean, Daedalus shouted a reminder to his son. The father and son rode the rising currents of air like birds. They made long, slow turns, first one way and then the other in the brilliant blue sky. After flying contentedly side by side, Daedalus took the lead.

Icarus did a somersault in the air, then caught up to his father. Daedalus gestured for Icarus to stay at a safe middle level.

Icarus, however, wanted to fly higher, up to where the gods lived. While Daedalus flew on in front, unaware, Icarus beat his wings hard and rose up and up. The warmth of the sun felt good on his back, and Icarus rose still higher.

The warm sun melted the wax on Icarus' wings.
The warm sun melted the wax on Icarus' wings.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The same warm sun melted the wax on Icarus' wings. First only a few feathers and then many slipped off of the wings as the wax turned to liquid. Suddenly, Icarus dropped straight down, down into the cold sea.

When Daedalus looked back, he could no longer see his son. Alarmed, Daedalus flew about in circles looking for the boy. At last, Daedalus flew close enough to the water to see the feathers floating on the sea. He knew then that his son had drowned.

Daedalus wept as he flew alone. If only his son had listened to him, then they would be flying to freedom together.

For more children's stories and activities, check out:

  • 1
  • 2

More to Explore