Gordias

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Gordias (or Gordius) was a royal name in the mythic prehistory of Phrygia. In the mythological age, kings of Phrygia were alternately named Gordias and Midas.

In the founding myth of Gordium, the first Gordias was a poor farmer from Macedonia who was the last descendant of the royal family of Bryges.[1] When an eagle landed on the pole of his ox-cart, he interpreted it as a sign that he would one day become a king. The eagle did not stir as he drove the cart to the oracle of Sabazios[2] at the old, more easterly cult center, Telmissus, in the part of Phrygia that later became part of Galatia. At the gates of the city he encountered a seeress, who counselled him to offer sacrifices to Zeus/Sabazios:

"'Let me come with you, peasant,' she said, 'to make sure that you select the right victims.' "By all means,' replied Gordius. 'You appear to be a wise and considerate young woman. Are you prepared to marry me?' 'As soon as the sacrifices have been offered,' she answered."[3]

Meanwhile, the Phrygians, suddenly finding themselves without a king, consulted the oracle and were told to acclaim as king the first man to ride up to the temple in a cart. It was the farmer Gordias who appeared, riding in his ox-cart with his patroness.

Gordias founded the city of Gordium, which became the Phrygian capital. His ox-cart was preserved in the acropolis. In this manner the founding myth justified the succession of Gordium to Telmissus as cult center of Phrygia. Its yoke was secured with an intricate knot called the Gordian Knot. The legend of Gordium, widely disseminated by the publicists of Alexander the Great[4] said that he who could unravel it would be master of 'Asia' which was equated at the time with Anatolia. Instead, Alexander sliced the knot in half with his sword, in 333 BCE.

Arrian has Midas, Gordias' son, assuming kingship instead of his father.[5]

With Cybele, or under her patronage as Great Mother, goddess of Phrygia, Gordias adopted Midas, who was recast as his son in later mythology.

A later Gordias was a Phrygian king, the father with Eurynome of Adrastus. Adrastus accidentally killed his own brother and had to flee to Lycia.

Notes

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