Art and Images in Psychiatry |

Bruegel's Landscape With Fall of Icarus

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(7):653. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.69.
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Pieter Bruegel's (c 1525-1569) satirical drawings of the stories of Daedalus, Icarus, and Perdix are unique in their interpretation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. In Book VIII, Ovid tells of Minos, king of Crete. When Minos refused to surrender the beautiful white Cretan bull for sacrifice, Poseidon demanded that as his punishment, his wife, Pasiphaë, would fall in love and adulterously mate with the bull. A son was born, the legendary Minotaur, with the head of a bull and body of a man. Shamed Minos demanded that Daedalus, the renowned architect, construct a labyrinth to hide the Minotaur. Later Minos blamed Daedalus for complicity both in facilitating Pasiphaë's mating with the bull and also in aiding his daughter, Ariadne, who plotted with Theseus to kill the Minotaur. Thus, Minos held Daedalus captive on Crete. Daedalus, trapped by land, sought to escape by sky with his son. He constructed wings for himself and Icarus from feathers using thread and wax to bind them. As Daedalus worked, Icarus played idly by with the feather down and playfully put his thumbprints in the soft wax.1(lines 198-200)


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