The book represents a large-scale attempt to single out one especially durable and important Greek myth and follow all its permutations through almost three millennia. The Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus explores a whole range of themes and ideas that are central to western culture and indeed universal in their meaning. Commendatory Preface; The Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus explores a whole range of themes and ideas that are central to western culture and indeed universal in their meaning. There is the archetypal relationship of father and son who bond with each other through the shared, magnificent adventure of human flight: the father loving and meticulous, but ultimately, and tragically, unable to save his son from his own impetuous nature. The experience of age outlives the daring of youth that is pushed past the mean. Daedalus himself is the prototype of the architect, the craftsman, the inventor, and the artist (he is the creator, among other things, of lifelike sculptures of the human figure).Daedalus and Icarus are, at the same time, prototypes of the exile: in some versions of the story, forced to leave their homeland of Athens, trapped on the island of Crete in the service of King Minos, finally escaping from Crete only to meet further reversals, Icarus plunging into the sea, his father ending his days in distant Sicily, still pursued by the wrathful Minos.
Perhaps most importantly, though it was his father who conceived the notion of human flight, it is Icarus, more than Daedalus, the boy who flew too high, who nonetheless comes to symbolize the irrepressible striving to break the bonds of human nature, to leave our earthbound existence, if only for a moment, and experience the freedom of flight. It is this universal and timeless urge that Karl Kilinski tracks through more than two and half millennia of western culture. This is the first scholarly study to trace the visual imagery of Icarus, and the meaning of his story, from their creation in the Greek archaic period, through the Medieval and early modern periods, and down to our own day, when the motif of human flight is as powerful and relevant as ever.A distinguished scholar of classical art and archaeology, Kilinski has long argued persuasively for the diachronic study of Greek myth, tracing its permutations in later periods, ever since his pioneering exhibition and catalogue of 1985, Classical Myth in Western Art: Ancient through Modern.