Midas

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For the legend of Gordias, a poor countryman who was taken by the people and made King, in obedience to the command of the oracle, see Gordias.

Midas or King Midas (in Greek Μίδας) is popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold. This was called the Golden touch, or the Midas touch.[1] He bears some relation to the historical Mita, king of the Mushki in Western Anatolia in the later 8th century BC.[2]

Contents

History

There are some different accounts of Midas' life. In one, Midas was king[3] of Pessinus, a city of Phrygia, who as a child was adopted by the king Gordias and Cybele, the goddess whose consort he was, and who (by some accounts) was the goddess-mother of Midas himself.[4] Some accounts place the youth of Midas in Macedonian Bermion (See Bryges)[5] In Thracian Mygdonia,[6] Midas was known for his garden of roses: Herodotus[7] remarks on the settlement of the ancient kings of Macedon on the slopes of Mount Bermion "the place called the garden of Midas son of Gordias, where roses grow of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing fragrance". In this garden, according to Macedonians, Silenos was taken captive.[8] According to the Iliad (V.860), he had one son, Lityerses, the demonic reaper of men, but in some variations of the myth he instead had a daughter, Zoë or "life". (For the son of Midas, see Adrastus.)

Arrian gives an alternative story of the descent and life of Midas. According to him, Midas was the son of Gordios, a poor peasant, and a Telmissian maiden of the prophetic race. When Midas grew up to be a handsome and valiant man, the Phrygians were harassed by civil discord, and consulting the oracle, they were told that a wagon would bring them a king, who would put an end to their discord. While they were still deliberating, Midas arrived with his father and mother, and stopped near the assembly, wagon and all. They, comparing the oracular response with this occurrence, decided that this was the person whom the god told them the wagon would bring. They therefore appointed Midas king and he, putting an end to their discord, dedicated his father’s wagon in the citadel as a thank-offering to Zeus the king for sending the eagle. In addition to this the following saying was current concerning the wagon, that whosoever could loosen the cord of the yoke of this wagon, was destined to gain the rule of Asia. This someone was to be Alexander the Great.[9]

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