Icarus, in Greek mythology, was a young man who attempted to escape from Crete using wings constructed from feathers and wax.
Human flight has been a recurring ambition in fables from many different cultures, almost always with similar results to that of Icarus. Persian poet Ferdowsi depicted a chariot drawn by crows, whilst the British King Bladud was said to have worn wings but overbalanced in midair and crashed to the ground. In China, legend suggests that Emperor Shun escaped a burning tower with the aid of two large reed hats; a rare example of a successful flight, or parachute jump at least.
The negative connotations of human flight were embedded in religion. For a human to wear wings like an angel was seen as an arrogant desire to become divine; in contrast, stories of flying witches and demons remain part of popular culture to this day. Early attempts at building aeroplanes raised similar concerns about humanity attempting to interfere with divinity, to overreach its natural limits and to doom itself to failure.