King Midas — The Story of King Midas and the Golden Touch

King Midas — The Story of King Midas and the Golden Touch

Who was Midas in Greek Mythology?

Midas, in Greek mythology, was said to be the son of Gordius and Cybele or to have been adopted by Gordius. He was the king of Phrygia and renowned for his wealth. According to the Greeks, his fabulous riches were the result of kindness he showed to Silenus, the old goat-like tutor of Dionysus, the god of vegetation, wine and ecstasy.

So pleased was Dionysus with this behaviour that he offered Midas whatever he wished. The king asked for everything he touched to be turned into gold. And there was the beginning of the epic tale of King Midas and the Golden Touch.

Many of us may be familiar with the myth of King Midas and his ability to transform inanimate objects into gold, but how exactly did he acquire such a talent?

Midas ruled over the region known as Phrygia, part of what we call today modern-day Turkey. As you would expect from a king, he lived a life of luxury and abundance in his enormous castle with his only daughter.

But despite how rich Midas was, nothing bought him as much joy as accumulating gold. He would often spend vast amounts of time counting his gold coins. His obsession led to him covering all of his clothing in gold objects, sometimes even going as far as bathing gold.

The Epic Wish

King Midas and Dionysus and Silenus feasting
Midas and Bacchus (Dionysus) – Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)

The god Dionysus had passed through Midas’ kingdom, but his companion, and long-time friend, Silenus, had lost his way after the two had drunk a bit too much wine the night before.

Silenus was found wandering in the gardens of the surrounding palace by the men of King Midas. Upon being recognized, Silenus would spend the next few days enjoying King Midas’ hospitality as the two indulged themselves.

When Silenus explained what had happened to him, King Midas did not hesitate to reunite him with his friend Dionysus. Once reunited, Dionysus was extremely grateful to King Midas for the kindness he had shown. He told the king that as a reward, he would grant him one wish.

Midas paused, and after a short period of contemplation, he replied, “I wish that everything I touched became gold.”

Dionysus urged the king to reconsider his wish, but Midas was adamant that that is what he wanted. Unable to dissuade the King from his wish, Dionysus asked Midas to heed his warning and granted the wish the following day.

The Wish Turned to A Curse!

When Midas awoke, he was eager to see if his wish had been granted. Reaching over to his bedside table, as Midas lay his hands down, it did indeed turn into gold. Filled with excitement, he began to touch every object in his room until he was so exhausted that he had to rest.

As Midas sat down for breakfast, he leant over to smell a rose, but as he touched it, the fragrance is gone. He was disappointed that he would never again enjoy the fragrance of his garden without touching his flowers.

Every piece of food that might is touched turned to gold before he could even reach his lips, and it wasn’t long before he began to realize, but the gift he had so eagerly asked for may not have been a gift.

When Midas’ daughter entered the room, she ran over to hug her father, and as she did, tears filled his eyes as he had just turned his daughter into a solid gold statue. Distraught at what he had just done, Midas began to pray to Dionysus to end this curse.

The End of the Golden Touch

Dionysus told Midas to go to the River Pactolus, where everything he placed in the river would revert to normal. Midas washed his hands in the river and felt his newfound power disappeared, leaving a stream of shimmering gold behind him.

When he returned home, everything that was once gold had returned to normal. King Midas hugged his daughter, and he left her in charge of his kingdom—he had realized that all the riches in the world would no longer make him happy.

He retreated to the forest where he became a follower of the god Pan and where he would live a simple and humble life.

The Moral of the Story of King Midas and the Golden Touch

The story of King Midas and his golden touch is a classic case of “be careful what you wish for.” Midas was a greedy king who believed that wealth was the route to happiness, and it wasn’t until he lost his daughter, the one thing that he truly loved, that he realized he no longer needed money and material possessions to live a happy life.

King Midas and the Golden Touch Questions and Answers

What is the story of King Midas?

King Midas helped Silenus and offered him hospitality. So pleased was Dionysus with this behaviour that he offered Midas whatever he wished. The kind asked for everything he touched to be turned into gold. At first, Midas was overjoyed with the gift, but once he realized that every food and drink were transformed to gold on touching his lips, he was horrified.

Out of pity, Dionysus told him to wash away his golden touch, which Midas did in the River Pactolus, thereafter famous for the gold dust to be found on its bed.


How did King Midas get rid of the golden touch?

Dionysus told Midas to go to the river Pactolus where everything he placed in the river would revert to normal. Midas washed his hands in the river and felt his newfound power disappeared, leaving a stream of shimmering gold behind him.


What did King Midas do to his daughter?

When Midas’ daughter entered the room, she ran over to hug her father, and as she did, tears filled his eyes as he had just turned his daughter into a solid gold statue.


Did King Midas kill his daughter?

No, Midas at first turned his daughter to a solid gold statue, but after his atonement at the River Pactolus, everything that was once gold had returned to normal, including his daughter.


Why did King Midas regret his wish?

It wasn’t until he lost his daughter, the one thing that he truly loved, that he realized he no longer needed money and material possessions to live a happy life.


What is the moral of the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch?

The story of King Midas and his golden touch is a classic case of “be careful what you wish for.”

Image Sources: GTORAVERSE, Lifebytes.


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