Hubris5 mins 235 5 mins 235
05-11-20202 Favourite Mythological Character - Icarus
Hubris: A personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence.
Daedalus sat gloomily in the center of the Labyrinth, looking for a means to escape. He, the master craftsman of Crete, had been imprisoned in the maze of his own making. He brooded over the turn of events that had led him to this point.
He had built this labyrinth on the orders of the King Minos of Crete, to trap the Minotaur, the beast who was half man and half bull and who ate humans as his meals. King Minos had agreed not to attack Athens if seven boys and girls from Athens were sent every nine years to Crete to be eaten by the Minotaur. Prince Theseus of Athens, furious with this agreement, wanted to kill the Minotaur and had made his way to Crete. Princess Ariadne of Crete fell in love with the young Prince and promised to help him if he would marry her and take her away from Crete.
Princess Ariadne begged the help of Daedalus, who had designed and built the Labyrinth, to help Theseus find the way to the Minotaur inside the Labyrinth and get out again without being lost in its twists and turns. Daedalus gave Ariadne a ball of thread, one end of which was to be tied to the door of the Labyrinth and unrolled as Theseus walked inside. Theseus followed these instructions, made his way to the center of the Labyrinth, killed the Minotaur, and easily found his way back with the help of the thread. As promised, he took Ariadne with him as he escaped from Crete.
King Minos was furious with Ariadne’s defection and held Daedalus responsible for it. As punishment, he now had him imprisoned in the center of the Labyrinth with no means to escape. Daedalus knew that even if he found a way out by land, King Minos’ guards would kill him. His fate would be the same, if he escaped by sea, as King Minos checked on every vessel which left the port of Crete.
Daedalus looked at his son, Icarus who was imprisoned in the Labyrinth with him. The only means of escape for them was by air. Daedalus, being the master craftsman of Crete, began to design the wings that would help him and his son escape. He fashioned wings for himself with the help of feathers, held together by wax. He made them look like the wings of a large bird and as he wore them and flapped his wings he rose up and was able to fly.
Daedalus created a similar set of wings for his son, Icarus as they together planned their escape. Daedalus imparted a severe warning to Icarus. The wings, he said, were made from wax and feathers and so bade him not to fly too close to the sun, which would melt the wax, and not too close to the sea, whose moisture would clog the feathers. When they were ready, they rose as one and flew out of the labyrinth.
As they flew over seas and islands, Icarus tasted his first sense of freedom. He had seen birds fly high up in the sky, but today he was one among them. He flew a bit higher and swooped down and tumbled over in a couple of dives. The wings held together beautifully. The wind caressed his body and urged him to go faster and very soon he was miles ahead of his father. He gazed at the bright blue horizon spread out in front of him and the deep blue sea, a carpet below him. But what beckoned to him was the sun. He had visited the seashore many times and had experienced the vagaries of the sea, but the sun was unchartered territory.
“How would it feel to go close to the sun?'', he wondered. “Would the heat warm my bones? Will I find a whole new people on the surface of the sun or is the sun the dwelling place of the Gods? The Gods will commend me for my courage, my curiosity, my persistence and reward me with a place amongst them.”
These foolish thoughts urged him on, but they were not foolish to him. Hubris had taken over and it could be appeased only by reaching the sun. Unheeding his father’s warnings Icarus flapped his large wings and made his way upwards. The joy in his achievements made him light-headed and his wings also felt lighter.
He found himself suspended at a point between the sun and the sea when he realised that the heat of the sun had been gradually melting the wax in his wings and his feathers had fallen like snowflakes back to the earth. He was now flapping only his arms, devoid of feathers and soon they could hold him no longer. Thus began his descent back to the earth.
As Icarus fell to the earth, certain death but a few moments away, he began a lament
“ Oh Hubris, Hubris, where art thou now?
Your seductive words led me on..
Foolishness in the guise of morality you wrought,
Unheeding a father’s voice, my destruction you sought.
O Hubris, hubris, you will be the death of me someday,
O Hubris, hubris, you will be the death of me today. “
With this lament in his heart and a tear in his eye, Icarus fell into the sea and the waves embraced him and took him deep inside.
Daedalus, reaching too late to help his son, wept over the end of his young life and named the island near where he had fallen as Icaria. “ Hubris, Oh Hubris, ” he cried. “You have claimed your victim at last.”