King Midas


Referring to someone as having “the Midas touch” refers to them as having continued success in anything they undertake. However, the story delves a little deeper.

Midas was a king of Phrygia, what is today’s Turkey. One day Midas had some of his servants working in the field for him. There they captured a satyr, a creature that was half man-half goat. Wanting to capture the creature to bring him back to their king, the servants beat him to prevent him from escaping. They took the satyr to Midas and the king immediately recognized the satyr as Silenus. Silenus was a helper to the god Dionysus and so he ordered the servants to set the satyr free.

Silenus explained that he and Dionysus had been out in the East hunting and participating in grape cultivation. He had gotten drunk on the expedition and had fallen asleep in the king’s vineyard. He was extremely thankful to Midas for treating him with respect and compassion and upon his return home, he told Dionysus of the good king. Dionysus was also extremely grateful towards Midas and told Midas that he would give him anything he could ask for.

Midas’ truest wish was to have eternal security for the royal treasury. To make sure that he would have a constant flow of funds available for the treasury, he asked the god to make everything he touched turn to gold. The god was sceptical of this wish and gave Midas a chance to change his wish. But Midas was positive that this would be best.

After having his wish granted by Dionysus, Midas rushed home to test his new gift. Being somewhat sceptical himself, he first tried to touch a bowl of fruit. Then he touched a stool. He then touched a woolly lambskin. After all of these had turned to gold, as promised by Dionysus, he touched his chariot and was delighted to see it too, turn to gold.

Delighted at what he could do, he wanted to show his daughter. Taking her by the hand, he was excited to show her. Midas felt hesitation in the hand holding onto his daughter and was surprised that his daughter was not interested in what he could do. He turned around only to find that the moment he had taken her by the hand, she had turned to a statue of gold.

Midas went back to Dionysus and begged him to take the power away. The god allowed Midas to wash his hands in the river Pactolus to wash away his power. Midas did so and his daughter, along with the bowl of fruit and everything else, were returned to him in their original state.

King Midas

King Midas

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