King Midas is one of the most known and controversial personas in the Greek Mythology. King of Phrygia, Midas, was known for his wisdom but also his greed. Although one of the most known kings of his time, a fanatic lover of the Arts and Culture, creator of a gorgeous rose garden, Midas was known to be extremely greedy, trying to accumulate the largest amount of money and wealth in the known world.
Myth of Midas’ Gold
According to the Greek myth, God Dionysus found himself in Phrygia once, followed by a group of Satyrs and other creatures that were always celebrating and feasting with him. Silenus, one of the Satyrs, entered the sacred Rose garden of Midas and the guards brought the intruder to the King.
Midas recognized the follower of Dionysus and decided not to punish him, especially since Silenus decided to stay at the court entertaining Midas with frantic stories about the pleasures of life. God Dionysus was pleased with Midas and his decision not to punish Silenus, thus asked Midas what he wanted the most from his life – in order to return the favor.
Midas said that he wished everything he touched could turn to gold. Although Dionysus warned Midas about the potential dangers of such a wish, Midas insisted on it and Dionysus granted him with the infamous Midas Touch.
The curse of Midas’ touch
Midas was thrilled with the gift because he could turn everything to gold, soon though, he realized that he was unable to eat, drink or do anything normally, since everything he touched would turn to Gold. Midas started understanding the warnings of Dionysus and the depth of his mistake and greed.
Midas went to Dionysus, desperate, and begged him to free him from this “curse”. Dionysus told Midas that he had to go and bathe in the River Paktolos (Pactolus) in order to wash away this ability.
Midas indeed went to Paktolos river and washed himself; according to the myth the gold settled in the sand of the river and was carried to another country of the East, Lydia, that became one of the richest countries of the antiquity.
Meaning of Midas’ myth
This myth gives an explanation why River Pactolus is rich with gold, but mostly refers to one of the most known beliefs of the Greeks, the short-sighted wish, and the punishment for greed.
The phrase Midas Touch is used till today to describe the ability of a person to make lots of money or create successful events, build a career and wealth. It has lost its negative meaning, although it is still associated with greed.
Midas is used as a personification of greed, which is considered one of the seven deadly sins.