King Midas and The Golden Touch
Once upon a time there was a king called Midas who loved gold. At night he would lock himself in his room and count his gold coins. When he was younger he had loved nature and made a beautiful garden, in which his daughter played, but now when Midas looked at the trees or flowers he wondered how much better they would be if they were made of gold.
Despite Midas’s love for gold, he still had a good heart. He loved his daughter, and was kind. When, one day, Midas looked out into his garden and saw a strange man lying in it, drunk and unwell, Midas knew he had to bring this stranger inside and care for him. When the man recovered he told Midas his name was Silenus, the teacher to the God Dionysus.
For the next eleven days King Midas took good care of Silenus. They ate well, and enjoyed each other’s company; but finally it was time for Silenus to return to Dionysus. Midas went with him, and when Dionysus saw his teacher had returned he promised Midas any power he wanted, as a way of saying thank you.
Midas’s love of gold overcame him.
‘I wish that everything I touch should turn to gold.’
Dionysus granted this wish.
Midas was delighted, and touched a tree: it immediately turned to gold. He walked home, and into the garden, where he then changed every flower into gold. To celebrate his new power Midas ordered a great feast.
Now, however, things went wrong, because when King Midas reached for some bread, it turned into gold. He picked up his cup – which became gold – and went to drink some water; the moment the water touched him, however, it too became gold. Midas suddenly found he could not eat or drink.
He then heard crying, and his daughter ran into the room.
‘It is so ugly!’ she said.
‘Our garden. The flowers have been spoiled.’
Midas hated to see his daughter unhappy.
‘Don’t cry, my dear’, and he bent over to kiss her on the head. That very moment he realised what a mistake he had made: she, too, turned into gold. He saw her golden face, sad, with golden tears, but she did not move. King Midas had turned his daughter into a statue.
Midas now detested gold, hoping he never saw it again, and he prayed to Dionysus. Dionysus heard his prayer, and answered:
‘Wash in the Pactolus River, and you will be cured.’
Midas went straight to the river, and jumped in. The strong waters washed out his power, but at the same time turned some of the sand into gold that got carried downstream. Midas then took a jug of the water and returned home, where he sprinkled it on his daughter. The gold disappeared from her body, and soon she was normal again.
After this, Midas decided he should leave the world of money and gold behind. He moved to the countryside, and started to study music.