The myth of King Midas and his golden touch

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Myth of Midas, the king's daughter turns into a golden statue
In Greek mythology, the king’s daughter transforms into a golden statue when he touches her. Illustration by Walter Crane for the 1893 edition. Credit: Public domain.

It is common to hear the phrase “like King Midas” to refer to people who make a lot of profit or experience great financial success in all of their endeavors. However, the origins of this expression come from an avid figure in Greek mythology who could turn anything he touched into gold.

Midas was a king of great fortune who ruled the region of Phrygia, Asia Minor. The king had great admiration for the Greek god Dionysus. So to get his attention, he decides to capture his satyr and his right arm, Silenus.

Grecian Delight supports Greece

To do this, Midas filled the fountain where Silenus was drinking wine, and when he fell intoxicated, he took him to his palace. Once there, he celebrated the “voluntary visit” with a great feast that lasted ten days, but Silenus, far from getting angry, shared his wisdom with the king.

The curse of Midas

After the feast, Midas restored the satyr to Dionysus safe and sound; grateful for the monarch’s hospitality to his old friend, he decides to grant him a wish. Midas asked him to have the ability to turn anything he touched into gold.

Dionysis tried to warn him, but at his insistence he finally agreed. The king was able to verify that his wish was granted, and he began to redecorate his palace, turning any furniture he found into gold.

The problem came when he wanted to regain his strength, and he saw how the delicacies he was trying to eat turned to gold at the touch of his mouth. Trying to quench his thirst, he nearly choked as the water turned to molten gold.

Her beloved daughter then entered the room. When Midas kissed her, she transformed into a golden statue. Desperate, he ran to apologize to Dionysus and begged him to take away the gift he had given him and bring it back to normal.

Midas thanks Dionysos
Midas Before Bacchus, a painting by the French classic Poussin, depicting the final moment when Midas thanks Dionysus for freeing him from the “gift.” Credit: Wikipedia / Public domain.

Seeing his repentance, the god agreed and explained that Midas only had to wash his hands in the Pactolo river. The king immediately obeyed, and by dipping his hands in the water, he could see how the gold was flowing from his hands and sinking to the bottom.

When he returned home, everything Midas had touched in the past returned to normal. The king embraced his daughter with joy and decided to share the great fortune with his people.

Midas became a better person, generous and grateful for all the assets he had. His people led prosperous lives, and when he died they all mourned for his beloved king.


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