One of the greatest recurring themes in Greek mythology is that of incompetent sonship. Whether you’re the god of the sun itself or the greatest architect and craftsman the ancient world has ever seen, your male child – if he doesn’t accidentally kill you during a discus-throwing contest in your own front yard – is almost certainly going to die horribly in front of you doing something he has never practiced before while screaming “Hey, Dad, look at what I can do!”
The best part about the Fall of Icarus as an artistic motif is that sometime around the thirteenth century everyone got together and decided that his fatal, tragic flaw was being a beautiful dumb idiot. And that’s it, that’s the gist. There’s hardly a portrait of Icarus that doesn’t make him look like a go-go dancer who’s too busy admiring his own body to listen to instructions on how to fly. “Of course I won’t fall; I’m gorgeous.” He’s hypnotized by his own hotness right into the gates of death.
“And the most important thing to remember is – are you listening to me? I feel like you’re not listening.”
“Of course I’m feathering.”
“You didn’t even say listening. What did I just say?”
even in death he cannot help but gaze at his own bicep
Daedalus is usually depicted as either classically nude, wrapped in a toga, or wearing a typical nobleman’s outfit of whatever era the painter was living in; the most popular outfit for Icarus is a tiny salmon-pink sash that grazes his thighs and just barely covers his dick. The first white boy in salmon-colored shorts? We may have found him, friends.
Oh God, just go
hooray, hooray for me, I’m flying and I’m gorgeous, you’re old and you’re standing
I – just make sure you don’t fly too high; the sun will melt the wax holding the wings tog –
I WONDER HOW HIGH I COULD FLY WITH THESE
2 pretty 2 listen
rules are for people with faces like yours, Dad
the sun works differently for people like me
“No, leave the strap there, it’s what keeps the wings stable.”
“But it looks so much better here, Father. Look at how well it complements my smooth white arms.”
“Your smooth white arms aren’t the point -”
“I thought you said they were going to be grand. These are nice, but…can’t you make them any bigger? And possibly salmon-colored?”
“And where is the one place we’re not going to fly? Remember? The one rule I told you?”
“THIS PINK-AND-BLUE SASH LOOKS SO GOOD WITH THESE GREY WINGS, I’M SO GLAD YOU DIDN’T GO WITH BROWN FEATHERS”
“Right, but where are you not going to take these wings -”
“Dad, with a look like this, I can go ANYWHERE”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.