Skip to main content
Select Source:

Midas

Midas (mī´dəs), in Greek mythology, king of Phrygia. Because he befriended Silenus, the oldest of the satyrs, Dionysus granted him the power to turn everything into gold by touch. But when even the food that he touched turned to gold, Midas begged to be relieved of his gift. Dionysus allowed him to wash away his power in the Pactolus River, which afterward had gold-bearing sands. In another legend Midas was given ass's ears by Apollo for preferring, in a contest, the music of Pan (in another account Marsyas) to that of Apollo. Midas preserved his shame from all but his barber, who, wishing to tell it, whispered it into a hole in the ground. The reeds that grew out of that hole, however, murmured the secret whenever the wind blew through them. There was also a historical king of Phrygia named Midas in the 8th cent. BC

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Midas." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Midas." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/midas

"Midas." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/midas

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Midas

Midas

Midas, a legendary king of Phrygia*, was fabled for having the "golden touch." According to Greek and Roman mythology, Silenius, a companion of the god Dionysus*, became drunk while visiting Phrygia. Silenius was captured and brought to Midas, who ordered that he be released and returned safely to Dionysus. The god gratefully offered to grant Midas any wish as a reward. Midas asked that everything he touched turn to gold. Knowing the wish to be dangerous, Dionysus asked the king if he was sure that was what he wanted. Midas assured him that it was, and the god granted the wish.

At first Midas was overjoyed. He began accumulating wealth simply by touching things. However, when he tried to eat, each mouthful of food turned to gold as it touched his lips. When he went to hug his daughter, she turned to gold as well. Midas finally begged the god to release him from his wish. Dionysus instructed him to bathe in the River Pactolus. From that day forward, the sands of the river turned to gold dust. In fact, the Pactolus is a river in Turkey that was famous in ancient times as a source of gold.

satyr woodland deity that was part man and part goat or horse

In another tale, Midas acted as the judge of a music contest between the god Apollo* and either Pan, the god of the pastures, or the satyr Marsyas. Midas declared Pan (or Marsyas) the winner, and the angry Apollo gave the king the ears of a donkey. Midas wore a hat to hide the ears and made his barber swear never to tell anyone the embarrassing secret. Unable to keep the secret, the barber dug a hole and whispered into it, "King Midas has the ears of an ass." Reeds later grew from the hole, and whenever a breeze blew through them, they whispered the secret to anyone who was nearby.

See also Apollo; Dionysus; Greek Mythology; Pan; Roman Mythology.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Midas." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Midas." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/midas

"Midas." Myths and Legends of the World. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/midas

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Midas

Midas a king of Phrygia, who, according to one story, was given by Dionysus the power of turning everything he touched into gold. Unable to eat or drink, he prayed to be relieved of the gift and was instructed to wash in the River Pactolus. According to another story, he declared Pan a better flute player than Apollo, who thereupon gave him ass's ears. Midas tried to hide them but his barber whispered the secret to some reeds, which repeat it whenever they rustle in the wind.
the Midas touch the ability to make money out of anything one undertakes.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Midas." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Midas." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/midas

"Midas." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/midas

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Midas

Midas Name of several historical Phrygian rulers and one legendary foolish king in classical mythology. As a reward for rendering a service to a god, King Midas asked that everything he touched should become gold. Midas found he was unable to eat or drink because his food, too, was transformed. His story was told by Ovid.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Midas." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Midas." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/midas

"Midas." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/midas

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Midas

Midashorrendous, stupendous, tremendous •Barbados • Indus • solidus • Lepidus •Midas, nidus •Aldous • Judas • Enceladus • exodus •hazardous • Dreyfus • Josephus •Sisyphus • typhus • Dollfuss •amorphous, anthropomorphous, polymorphous •rufous, Rufus •Angus • Argus •Las Vegas, magus, Tagus •negus •anilingus, cunnilingus, dingus, Mingus •bogus •fungous, fungus, humongous •anthropophagous, oesophagus (US esophagus), sarcophagus •analogous •homologous, tautologous •Areopagus • asparagus •Burgas, Fergus, Lycurgus •Carajás • frabjous •advantageous, contagious, courageous, outrageous, rampageous •egregious •irreligious, litigious, prestigious, prodigious, religious, sacrilegious •umbrageous • gorgeous

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Midas." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Midas." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/midas-1

"Midas." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/midas-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

MIDAS

MIDAS (ˈmaɑdəs) Computing measurement information and data analysis system
• missile defence alarm system

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"MIDAS." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"MIDAS." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/midas-0

"MIDAS." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/midas-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Midas

Midas

Nationality/Culture

Greek/Roman

Pronunciation

MY-duhs

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

Ovid's Metamorphoses

Lineage

Son of King Gordias and Cybele

Character Overview

In Greek and Roman mythology , Midas was a king of Phrygia (pronounced FRIJ-ee-uh) fabled for having the “Midas touch”—the power to turn whatever he touched into gold.

According to Greek and Roman mythology, Silenus (pronounced sye-LEE-nuhs), a companion of the god Dionysus (pronounced dye-uh-NYE-suhs), became drunk while visiting Phrygia. Silenus was captured and brought to Midas, who ordered that he be released and returned safely to Dionysus. The god gratefully granted Midas any wish as a reward. Midas asked that everything he touched turn to gold. Knowing the wish to be dangerous, Dionysus asked the king if he was sure that was what he wanted. Midas assured him that it was, and the god granted the wish.

At first Midas was overjoyed. He gathered great wealth simply by touching things. However, when he tried to eat, each mouthful of food turned to gold as it touched his lips. When he went to hug his daughter, she turned to gold as well. Midas finally begged the god to release him from his wish. Dionysus instructed him to bathe in the River Pactolus (pronounced pak-TOH-luhs). From that day forward Midas was cured, and the sands of the river turned to gold dust.

In another tale, Midas observed a music contest between the gods Apollo (pronounced uh-POL-oh) and Pan. Midas, who had become a follower of Pan, protested when Apollo was awarded the victory. The angry Apollo gave Midas the ears of a donkey as punishment for his inability to hear that Apollo was the superior musician. Midas wore a hat to hide the ears and made his barber swear never to tell anyone the embarrassing secret. Unable to keep the secret, the barber dug a hole in a meadow and whispered into it, “King Midas has the ears of an ass.” Reeds later grew from the hole, and whenever a breeze blew through them, they whispered the secret to anyone who was nearby.

Midas in Context

The Pactolus River is a real river that was important to the people of Lydia, a kingdom that covered the entire western portion of Asia Minor (a region known as Turkey in modern times). Lydia was known as a wealthy kingdom, and much of its wealth came from the abundant gold that was found in the sands along the Pactolus. In fact, in the seventh century bce, Lydia became the first culture to mint and use coins as currency. The myth of Midas can be seen as an “origin tale” that explains why gold is found in the sands of the Pactolus. The myth allowed the ancient Lydians to link the tales of the gods to their own environment. It also reflects the importance of gold in ancient cultures, where it was used mainly to create sacred or religious objects kept by rulers.

Key Themes and Symbols

One of the main themes of the myth of King Midas is greed. Midas wishes for great riches and believes at first that he has come up with a way to achieve that goal. However, his greed ultimately causes him to lose everything of true importance. In the story, gold at first represents wealth and the favor of the gods. In the end, especially after losing his daughter, gold symbolizes the high price Midas has paid for his greed.

Midas in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

The myth of Midas has appeared in countless versions over the years. It remains especially popular in collections of children's stories. The Hand of Midas appears in the Disney animated film Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1995), a sequel to the 1992 hit film Aladdin. In the movie, the hand of Midas still possesses the ability to transform anything into gold by touch. In popular speech, saying someone has “the Midas touch” means that the person is very prosperous at any endeavor he or she attempts.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

In the twenty-first century, there are many figures in the business and entertainment industry such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey who have made fortunes worth millions and even billions of dollars. Do you think there is such a thing as having too much money? What might be some of the effects—social, emotional, and psychological—of being able to buy practically anything in the world you want?

SEE ALSO Apollo; Dionysus; Greek Mythology; Pan; Roman Mythology

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Midas." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Midas." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/midas

"Midas." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Retrieved September 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/midas

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.