Midas





Midas, a legendary king of Phrygia*, was fabled for having the "golden touch." According to Greek and Roman mythology, Silenius, a companion of the god Dionysus*, became drunk while visiting Phrygia. Silenius was captured and brought to Midas, who ordered that he be released and returned safely to Dionysus. The god gratefully offered to grant Midas any wish as a reward. Midas asked that everything he touched turn to gold. Knowing the wish to be dangerous, Dionysus asked the king if he was sure that was what he wanted. Midas assured him that it was, and the god granted the wish.

At first Midas was overjoyed. He began accumulating wealth simply by touching things. However, when he tried to eat, each mouthful of food turned to gold as it touched his lips. When he went to hug his daughter, she turned to gold as well. Midas finally begged the god to release him from his wish. Dionysus instructed him to bathe in the River Pactolus. From that day forward, the sands of the river turned to gold dust. In fact, the Pactolus is a river in Turkey that was famous in ancient times as a source of gold.

satyr woodland deity that was part man and part goat or horse

In another tale, Midas acted as the judge of a music contest between the god Apollo* and either Pan, the god of the pastures, or the satyr Marsyas. Midas declared Pan (or Marsyas) the winner, and the angry Apollo gave the king the ears of a donkey. Midas wore a hat to hide the ears and made his barber swear never to tell anyone the embarrassing secret. Unable to keep the secret, the barber dug a hole and whispered into it, "King Midas has the ears of an ass." Reeds later grew from the hole, and whenever a breeze blew through them, they whispered the secret to anyone who was nearby.

See also Apollo ; Dionysus ; Greek Mythology ; Pan ; Roman Mythology .



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