P. Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses (ed. Brookes More) 1922 Public Domain Translation

Ovidís Metamorphoses, Book VIII,


Daedalus in the meantime hating Crete and his long exile
and having been touched by the love of his birthplace
had been closed in by the sea. He said "Although Minos obstructs
the land and waves, the sky certainly lies open, we will fly that way
Minos may possess everything, but he does not possess the air."
He spoke and sends down his mind into unknown arts
and makes new nature. For he puts feathers in a row
beginning with the littlest, and followed the long by the shorter,
so that you may think that it has grown on an incline; the rustic
pipe long ago rises with the uneven reed.
Then he binds the middle feathers with thread and the lower feathers with wax
and then bends what he has created as
to mimic that of a true bird. Together with his father, the boy Icarus
was standing unaware he was facing danger,
now with a beaming face kept on capturing the feathers
which the moving air has moved, with his thumb now kept softening the yellow wax
and with his play he kept interrupting the marvelous work of his father.
After the finishing touch had been placed
on the work, the craftsman balanced his body
in twin wings and suspended his body in the open air;
"I warn you to travel
in the middle course Icarus, if too low
the waves may weigh down your wings, if you fly too high the fires will scorch
your wings. Stay between both. I order you not to look at Booten,
or Helice, or the drawn sword of Orion.
Seize the road with me as your guide!"
he hands over at the same time the rules of flying and fits the unknown wings on his
shoulders. Between the work and warnings the old cheeks grew wet,
and fatherly hands trembled; He gave kisses to his son
not to be repeated, and having lifted himself up on his wings
he flies before and he fears for his comrade. Just as a bird
who has led forth a tender offspring from a high nest into the air,
and encourages [him] to follow and instructs [him] in the destructive arts
and he moves himself and looks back at the wings of his son.
These someone while catching fish with a trembling rod
either a shepherd with his staff or a plowman leaning on a plow
saw them and were stunned, and they who were able to snatch the sky,
he believed were gods. And now Juno's Samos was on the left
side(for Delos and Raros had been left behind)
and on the right was Lebinthes and Calymae rich in honey,
when the boy began to rejoice in his bold flight
and he deserted his leader,and attracted by a desire for the sky
he took his path higher. The vicinity of the sun
softens the fragrant wax, the chains of the feathers;
the waxes had melted: he shakes his bare arms
and lacking oarage he takes up no air,
and his face shouting his father's name
is swept up in the blue sea, which takes its name from him.
But the unlucky father, no longer a father, said "Icarus!"
"Icarus!" "where are you? What region shall I seek for you in?"
"Icarus!" he kept saying: he caught sight of feathers in the waves
and cursed his own arts and buried the body in a tomb,
and the land is called Icaria the name of the one buried there