What is in a name…

The Icarus syndrome

Icarus is a Greek mythological character . He was the son to Daedalus, who was an inventor , a sculptor and an architect of consummate skill .He built the Labyrinth for the king Minos of Crete. He then fell out of favour with the king and was imprisoned in the maze along with his son Icarus.Unable to find an escape route from the maze, he made a pair of wings with the feathers of birds and binding wax from the plants in the maze . He then attached the wings onto to the shoulders of Icarus to enable him to fly out of the maze and escape. He advised his son not to fly too close to the land to avoid capture by the king’s army nor too high to avoid the melting of the wax in the wings.

Soon after escaping from the maze and gaining heights, Icarus became overconfident and flew to great heights forgetting his father’s counsel.Then, the sun’s heat melted the wax in the wings and the feathers got loosened and flew away in the wind. The very wings that allowed him to escape imprisonment drowned him in the sea.

The sea in which Icarus drowned is now called the Icarian Sea;the land on which his body washed ashore is called the Icaria Islet.

Now, in English language usage, the idiom Icarus syndrome refers to overconfidence leading to failure in an endeavour. The phrase Icarus paradox , coined by Danny Miller in 1990 , refers to the phenomenon of a successful business failing abruptly , the failure brought about by the very elements that led to the initial success .

Recently, the NASA, employing the Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a distant star and named it after Icarus. It is called the Icarus Sun and twice as hot as the Sun,and million times more luminous than the Sun! It is half way across the universe and called the blue behemoth.


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