If you ever need a reminder about the term “know your role”, the story of Icarus fits the bill. The idea of achieving is a great notion but sometimes people take it too far or are over-ambitious. There are problems with this way of thinking and sometimes we need a reminder. The story of Icarus is a very famous tale and well known. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there are so many Icarus tattoos in the world.
We have all heard the story of Icarus at some point in our lives. If not, we have most likely seen the image of Icarus flying high and maybe a little too close to the sun. There is a great deal of meaning behind this tattoo and in this post, we will try to address what the Icarus tattoo means to the people donning this image on their body. We hope that by the end of this post you will have a better understanding of the story of Icarus and the meaning behind the Icarus tattoo.
The Story of Icarus
The story of Icarus is a well-known tale. The story goes as follows:
Icarus had a father named Daedalus. Daedalus was an extraordinary and talented Athenian craftsman. He created the Labyrinth for King Minos to imprison the Minotaur who was the half-bull, half-man creature born of the Cretan bull and his wife.
However, Daedalus was then imprisoned in the Labyrinth he had created for Minos because he gave Minos’ daughter a ball of string which she used to help Theseus find his way out of the Labyrinth. Theseus was the enemy of Minos so in his eyes, his daughter had committed an atrocious crime and Daedalus helped her.
To escape, Daedalus created a pair of wings out of wax and feathers and gave one to Icarus and he used one himself. He warned Icarus to follow his flight path and to not go too close to the sun or too close to the water. However, Icarus was overcome with joy and excitement over his new ability to fly and soared in the sky and happened to go to close to the sun. In doing so, the wax in his wings melted and he fell to the ocean which holds his name, the Icarian Sea.
Icarus Tattoo Symbolism
The Icarus tattoo has a great deal of symbolism. This story emphasizes the idea the Greeks had of Sophrosyne. This means to have a healthy idea of boundaries and self-control. This Icarus symbol represents knowledge and balance in life.
The image of Icarus or the lesson of the story symbolizes the penalties of being over-ambitious. This might translate into more of an idea of heeding warning and to not overdo things. The saying goes that everything is good in moderation. The symbol of Icarus is a reminder to not overdo things and to keep in mind that you can take things too far.
In a related subject, the Icarus tattoo symbolizes a notice against the neglectful chase for immediate gratification.
The flight that Icarus traveled on can also be seen as a lesson in the value of doing things in moderation. The danger in flying too low (wings would be weighed down by sea spray) or too high (wax would melt from the sun’s heat) were warnings to respect your self-limits and to act accordingly.
Another way the Icarus tattoo is seen is by having a link to the Analogy of the Divided Line by Plato. In this, the sun is symbolic of the “highest” or God. According to this idea, Icarus flew to high to God and tried to be wiser that the gods and he was accordingly punished for his arrogance.
Icarus Tattoo Variations
Through our research, we have seen the Icarus tattoo shown in a few different ways. In most cases you are bound to see Icarus with his wings spread far and flying near the sun. However, you might see this tattoo in the form of Icarus in the different stages of his flight. Below are some of the ways we have seen this tattoo portrayed and the meaning behind each image.
Icarus at the Sun Tattoo
In most cases, the Icarus tattoo will show young Icarus flying toward the sun. His wings are spread as he enjoys these moments of freedom and flying fearlessly. He heeds no warning from his father about flying too close to the sun.
Outside of the story, this moment of Icarus’ flight represents sheer joy and wonder. Icarus has this pair of wings on his and the sky is the limit. This moment is captured before the sun melts his wings and comes crashing down to the earth.
Icarus Fallen Tattoo
On the other hand, if you see an Icarus tattoo, you are likely to see one of Icarus in the middle of crashing to the earth or him laying with broken and melted wings. In this image, it is strictly a reminder of what can happen to one when they get overzealous. It is a constant reminder to not be so greedy and take things in stride. Excitement can sometimes rule the day, but we should remind ourselves of what happened to Icarus when he didn’t listen to his father. The Icarus tattoo is a great way to do so.
These are two of the most seen Icarus tattoos out there. It is obvious why these are the most popular, but they are also two of the most powerful images that one can get when trying to convey the message of the story of Icarus. It is a beautiful story and one with a great deal of meaning. So, those that wear this tattoo must have had moments where they went too far and need a reminder to stay within themselves.
The story of Icarus is a well-known story and has very specific imagery. If you are thinking of getting the Icarus tattoo, make sure the artist you are looking at has experience in tattoos that are similar to what you are thinking. If you know you want this tattoo but aren’t sure where to go, let us know so we can give you a recommendation.