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Midas
Midas
(/ˈmaɪdəs/; Greek: Μίδας) is the name of at least three members of the royal house of Phrygia. The most famous King Midas
Midas
is popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold. This came to be called the golden touch, or the Midas
Midas
touch.[1] The Phrygian city Midaeum was presumably named after this Midas, and this is probably also the Midas
Midas
that according to Pausanias founded Ancyra.[2] According to Aristotle, legend held that Midas
Midas
died of starvation as a result of his "vain prayer" for the gold touch.[3] The legends told about this Midas
Midas
and his father Gordias, credited with founding the Phrygian capital city Gordium
Gordium
and tying the Gordian Knot, indicate that they were believed to have lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BC, well before the Trojan War. However, Homer
Homer
does not mention Midas or Gordias, while instead mentioning two other Phrygian kings, Mygdon and Otreus. Another King Midas
Midas
ruled Phrygia
Phrygia
in the late 8th century BC, up until the sacking of Gordium
Gordium
by the Cimmerians, when he is said to have committed suicide. Most historians believe this Midas
Midas
is the same person as the Mita, called king of the Mushki
Mushki
in Assyrian texts, who warred with Assyria
Assyria
and its Anatolian provinces during the same period.[4] A third Midas
Midas
is said by Herodotus
Herodotus
to have been a member of the royal house of Phrygia
Phrygia
and the grandfather of an Adrastus who fled Phrygia after accidentally killing his brother and took asylum in Lydia
Lydia
during the reign of Croesus. Phrygia
Phrygia
was by that time a Lydian subject. Herodotus
Herodotus
says that Croesus
Croesus
regarded the Phrygian royal house as "friends" but does not mention whether the Phrygian royal house still ruled as (vassal) kings of Phrygia.[5]

Contents

1 Legends 2 Myths

2.1 Golden Touch 2.2 Ears of a Donkey

2.2.1 Similar myths in other cultures

3 Historicity 4 Possible tomb 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References

Legends[edit] There are many, and often contradictory, legends about the most ancient King Midas. In one, Midas
Midas
was king of Pessinus, a city of Phrygia, who as a child was adopted by King Gordias and Cybele, the goddess whose consort he was, and who (by some accounts) was the goddess-mother of Midas
Midas
himself.[6] Some accounts place the youth of Midas
Midas
in Macedonian Bermion (See Bryges)[7] In Thracian Mygdonia,[8] Herodotus
Herodotus
referred to a wild rose garden at the foot of Mount Bermion as "the garden of Midas
Midas
son of Gordias, where roses grow of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing fragrance".[9] Herodotus
Herodotus
says elsewhere that Phrygians anciently lived in Europe where they were known as Bryges,[10] and the existence of the garden implies that Herodotus
Herodotus
believed that Midas
Midas
lived prior to a Phrygian migration to Anatolia. According to some accounts, Midas
Midas
had a son, Lityerses, the demonic reaper of men, but in some variations of the myth he instead had a daughter, Zoë or "life". According to other accounts he had a son Anchurus. Arrian
Arrian
gives an alternative story of the descent and life of Midas. According to him, Midas
Midas
was the son of Gordios, a poor peasant, and a Telmissian maiden of the prophetic race. When Midas
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
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
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. 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.[11] In other versions of the legend, it was Midas' father Gordias who arrived humbly in the cart and made the Gordian Knot. Herodotus
Herodotus
said that a " Midas
Midas
son of Gordias" made an offering to the Oracle of Delphi
Oracle of Delphi
of a royal throne "from which he made judgments" that were "well worth seeing", and that this Midas
Midas
was the only foreigner to make an offering to Delphi before Gyges of Lydia.[12] The historical Midas
Midas
of the 8th century BC and Gyges are believed to have been contemporaries, so it seems most likely that Herodotus
Herodotus
believed that the throne was donated by the earlier, legendary King Midas. However, some historians believe that this throne was donated by the later, historical King Midas.[13] Myths[edit] Golden Touch[edit] One day, as Ovid
Ovid
relates in Metamorphoses XI,[14] Dionysus
Dionysus
found that his old schoolmaster and foster father, the satyr Silenus, was missing.[15] The old satyr had been drinking wine and wandered away drunk, to be found by some Phrygian peasants who carried him to their king, Midas
Midas
(alternatively, Silenus
Silenus
passed out in Midas' rose garden). Midas
Midas
recognized him and treated him hospitably, entertaining him for ten days and nights with politeness, while Silenus
Silenus
delighted Midas
Midas
and his friends with stories and songs.[16] On the eleventh day, he brought Silenus
Silenus
back to Dionysus
Dionysus
in Lydia. Dionysus
Dionysus
offered Midas
Midas
his choice of whatever reward he wished for. Midas
Midas
asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold. Midas
Midas
rejoiced in his new power, which he hastened to put to the test. He touched an oak twig and a stone; both turned to gold. Overjoyed, as soon as he got home, he touched every rose in the rose garden, and all became gold. He ordered the servants to set a feast on the table. Upon discovering how even the food and drink turned into gold in his hands, he regretted his wish and cursed it. Claudian
Claudian
states in his In Rufinem: "So Midas, king of Lydia, swelled at first with pride when he found he could transform everything he touched to gold; but when he beheld his food grow rigid and his drink harden into golden ice then he understood that this gift was a bane and in his loathing for gold, cursed his prayer."[17] In a version told by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
in A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys (1852), Midas' daughter came to him, upset about the roses that had lost their fragrance and become hard, and when he reached out to comfort her, found that when he touched his daughter, she turned to gold as well. Now, Midas
Midas
hated the gift he had coveted. He prayed to Dionysus, begging to be delivered from starvation. Dionysus
Dionysus
heard his prayer, and consented; telling Midas
Midas
to wash in the river Pactolus. Then, whatever he put into the water would be reversed of the touch. Midas
Midas
did so, and when he touched the waters, the power flowed into the river, and the river sands turned into gold. This explained why the river Pactolus
Pactolus
was so rich in gold, and the wealth of the dynasty claiming Midas
Midas
as its forefather no doubt the impetus for this aetiological myth. Gold
Gold
was perhaps not the only metallic source of Midas' riches: "King Midas, a Phrygian, son of Cybele, first discovered black and white lead".[18] Ears of a Donkey[edit] Midas, now hating wealth and splendor, moved to the country and became a worshipper of Pan, the god of the fields and satyr.[19] Roman mythographers[20] asserted that his tutor in music was Orpheus. Once, Pan had the audacity to compare his music with that of Apollo, and challenged Apollo
Apollo
to a trial of skill (also see Marsyas). Tmolus, the mountain-god, was chosen as umpire. Pan blew on his pipes and, with his rustic melody, gave great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower, Midas, who happened to be present. Then Apollo struck the strings of his lyre. Tmolus
Tmolus
at once awarded the victory to Apollo, and all but one agreed with the judgment. Midas
Midas
dissented, and questioned the justice of the award. Apollo
Apollo
would not suffer such a depraved pair of ears any longer, and said "Must have ears of an ass!", which caused Midas's ears to become those of a donkey.[21] The myth is illustrated by two paintings, " Apollo
Apollo
and Marsyas" by Palma il Giovane (1544–1628), one depicting the scene before, and one after, the punishment. Midas
Midas
was mortified at this mishap. He attempted to hide his misfortune under an ample turban or headdress, but his barber of course knew the secret, so was told not to mention it. However, the barber could not keep the secret; he went out into the meadow, dug a hole in the ground, whispered the story into it, then covered the hole up. A thick bed of reeds later sprang up in the meadow, and began whispering the story, saying "King Midas
Midas
has an ass' ears".[22] Some sources said that Midas
Midas
killed himself by drinking the blood of an ox. Sarah Morris demonstrated (Morris 2004) that donkeys' ears were a Bronze Age royal attribute, borne by King Tarkasnawa (Greek Tarkondemos) of Mira, on a seal inscribed in both Hittite cuneiform and Luwian
Luwian
hieroglyphs: in this connection, the myth would appear for Greeks to justify the exotic attribute. The stories of the contests with Apollo
Apollo
of Pan and Marsyas
Marsyas
were very often confused, so Titian's Flaying of Marsyas
Marsyas
includes a figure of Midas
Midas
(who may be a self-portrait), though his ears seem normal.[23] Similar myths in other cultures[edit] In pre-Islamic legend of Central Asia, the king of the Ossounes of the Yenisei
Yenisei
basin had donkey's ears. He would hide them, and order each of his barbers murdered to hide his secret. The last barber among his people was counselled to whisper the heavy secret into a well after sundown, but he didn't cover the well afterwards. The well water rose and flooded the kingdom, creating the waters of Lake Issyk-Kul.[24] According to an Irish legend, the king Labraid Loingsech had horse's ears, something he was concerned to keep quiet. He had his hair cut once a year, and the barber, who was chosen by lot, was immediately put to death. A widow, hearing that her only son had been chosen to cut the king's hair, begged the king not to kill him, and he agreed, so long as the barber kept his secret. The burden of the secret was so heavy that the barber fell ill. A druid advised him to go to a crossroads and tell his secret to the first tree he came to, and he would be relieved of his burden and be well again. He told the secret to a large willow. Soon after this, however, a harper named Craiftine broke his instrument, and made a new one out of the very willow the barber had told his secret to. Whenever he played it, the harp sang "Labraid Lorc has horse's ears". Labraid repented of all the barbers he had put to death and admitted his secret.[25] Historicity[edit] The King Midas
Midas
who ruled Phrygia
Phrygia
in the late 8th century BC is known from Greek and Assyrian sources. According to the former, he married a Greek princess, Damodice daughter of Agamemnon of Cyme, and traded extensively with the Greeks. Damodice is credited with inventing coined money by Julius Pollux after she married Midas.[26] Some historians believe this Midas
Midas
donated the throne that Herodotus
Herodotus
says was offered to the Oracle of Delphi
Oracle of Delphi
by " Midas
Midas
son of Gordias" (see above). Assyrian tablets from the reign of Sargon II
Sargon II
record attacks by a "Mita", king of the Mushki, against Assyria's eastern Anatolian provinces. Some historians believe Assyrian texts called this Midas king of the "Mushki" because he had subjected the eastern Anatolian people of that name and incorporated them into his army. Greek sources including Strabo[27] say that Midas
Midas
committed suicide by drinking bulls' blood during an attack by the Cimmerians, which Eusebius
Eusebius
dated to around 695 BC and Julius Africanus to around 676 BC. Archeology has confirmed that Gordium
Gordium
was destroyed and burned around that time.[28] Possible tomb[edit]

Reconstruction of the Tumulus
Tumulus
MM burial, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey.

In 1957, Rodney Young and a team from the University of Pennsylvania opened a chamber tomb at the heart of the Great Tumulus
Tumulus
(in Greek, Μεγάλη Τούμπα)—53 metres in height, about 300 metres in diameter—on the site of ancient Gordion (modern Yassihöyük, Turkey), where there are more than 100 tumuli of different sizes and from different periods.[29] They discovered a royal burial, its timbers recently dated as cut to about 740 BC[30] complete with remains of the funeral feast and "the best collection of Iron Age drinking vessels ever uncovered".[31] This inner chamber was rather large: 5.15 metres by 6.2 metres in breadth and 3.25 metres high. On the remains of a wooden coffin in the northwest corner of the tomb lay a skeleton of a man 1.59 metres in height and about 60 years old.[32] In the tomb were found an ornate inlaid table, two inlaid serving stands, and eight other tables (Gordion Furniture and Wooden Artifacts), as well as bronze and pottery vessels and bronze fibulae.[33] Although no identifying texts were originally associated with the site, it was called Tumulus
Tumulus
MM (for " Midas
Midas
Mound") by the excavator. As this funerary monument was erected before the traditional date given for the death of King Midas in the early 7th century BC, it is now generally thought to have covered the burial of his father. See also[edit]

Philosopher's stone, mythic object in Alchemy, purported to transmute base materials into gold The Golden Touch, a Silly Symphony cartoon based on the Greek myth of King Midas

Notes[edit]

^ In alchemy, the transmutation of an object into gold is known as chrysopoeia. ^ Pausanias 1.4.5. ^ Aristotle, Politics, 1.1257b. ^ See for example Encyclopædia Britannica; also: "Virtually the only figure in Phrygian history who can be recognized as a distinct individual", begins Lynn E. Roller, "The Legend of Midas", Classical Antiquity, 22 (October 1983):299-313. ^ Herodotus
Herodotus
I.35. ^ "King Midas, a Phrygian, son of Cybele" (Hyginus, Fabulae 274). ^ "Bromium" in Graves 1960:83.a; Greek traditions of the migration from Macedon
Macedon
to Anatolia are examined— as purely literary constructions— in Peter Carrington, "The Heroic Age of Phrygia
Phrygia
in Ancient Literature and Art" Anatolian Studies 27 (1977:117-126). ^ Mygdonia became part of Macedon
Macedon
in historical times. ^ Herodotus, Histories 8.138.1 ^ Herodotus
Herodotus
7.73 ^ Arrian, Alexandri Anabasis, B.3.4-6 ^ Herodotus
Herodotus
I.14. ^ See for example Encyclopædia Britannica, notes to Penguin edition of Herodotus. ^ On-line text at Theoi.com ^ This myth appears in a fragment of Aristotle, Eudemus, (fr.6); Pausanias was aware that Midas
Midas
mixed water with wine to capture Silenus
Silenus
(Description of Greece 1.4.1); a muddled version is recounted in Flavius Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana, vi.27: "Midas himself had some of the blood of satyrs in his veins, as was clear from the shape of his ears; and a satyr once, trespassing on his kinship with Midas, made merry at the expense of his ears, not only singing about them, but piping about them. Well, Midas, I understand, had heard from his mother that when a satyr is overcome by wine he falls asleep, and at such times comes to his senses and will make friends with you; so he mixed wine which he had in his palace in a fountain and let the satyr get at it, and the latter drank it up and was overcome". ^ Aelian, Varia Historia iii.18 relates some of Silenus' accounts (Graves 1960:83.b.3). ^ Claudian, In Rufinem ^ Hyginus, Fabulae274 ^ This myth puts Midas
Midas
in another setting. " Midas
Midas
himself had some of the blood of satyrs in his veins, as was clear from the shape of his ears" was the assertion of Flavius Philostratus, in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana
(vi.27), not always a dependable repository of myth. (on-line) ^ Cicero
Cicero
On Divinationi.36; Valerius Maximus, i.6.3; Ovid, Metamorphoses, xi.92f. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 191. ^ The whispering sound of reeds is an ancient literary trope: the Sumerian Instructions of Shuruppak (3rd millennium BCE) warn "The reed-beds are ..., they can hide (?) slander". (Instructions of Shuruppak, lines 92-93). ^ Hall, James, Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, pp. 27-28, 1996 (2nd edn.), John Murray, ISBN 0719541476 ^ The legend is related in Ella Maillart, Dervla Murphy, Turkestan solo: a journey through Central Asia (1938) 2005:48f; a wholly separate origin uncontaminated by the legend of Midas
Midas
is not likely. ^ Geoffrey Keating, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn 1.29-1.30 ^ The Mycenaean Origin of Greek Mythology, Martin Persson Nilsson, University of California Press, 1972, pg48 ^ Strabo
Strabo
I.3.21. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. ^ Rodney Young, Three Great Early Tumuli: The Gordion Excavations Final Reports, Volume 1, (1981):79-102. ^ DeVries, Keith (2005). "Greek Pottery and Gordion Chronology". In Kealhofer, Lisa. The Archaeology of Midas
Midas
and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. pp. 42ff. ISBN 1-931707-76-6.  Manning, Sturt; et al. (2001). "Anatolian Tree Rings and a New Chronology for the East Mediterranean Bronze-Iron Ages". Science. 294 (5551): 2532–2535 [p. 2534]. doi:10.1126/science.1066112. PMID 11743159.  ^ "King Midas' modern mourners". Science News. November 4, 2000.  ^ Simpson, Elizabeth (1990). "Midas' Bed and a Royal Phrygian Funeral". Journal of Field Archaeology. 17 (1): 69–87. doi:10.1179/009346990791548484.  ^ Young (1981):102-190. Simpson, Elizabeth (1996). "Phrygian Furniture from Gordion". In Herrmann, Georgina. The Furniture of Western Asia: Ancient and Traditional. Mainz: Philipp Von Zabern. pp. 187–209. ISBN 3-8053-1838-3. 

References[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to King Midas.

Graves, Robert, 1960. The Greek Myths, rev. ed., 83.a-g. Sarah Morris, " Midas
Midas
as Mule: Anatolia in Greek Myth and Phrygian Kingship" (abstract), American Philological Society Annual Meeting, 2004. "The Funerary feast of King Midas" (University of Pennsylvania) – "Tomb of Midas" report Calos Parada, "Midas" – Separating historical Midas
Midas
from mythical Midas. Herodotus
Herodotus
on Midas Theoi.com Classical references to Midas, in English translations. "Reconstruction of King Midas" – Reconstruction of "King Midas" by R

.