King Midas Legend

Throughout the ages, few state administrators have been remembered with as much mythology and legend as King Midas.

When you investigate the life of King Midas, you will see that history is on one side and legend is on the other. With donkey ears and the ability to turn everything that he touches into gold, Midas has a story that blends the mythological elements of the Ancient Hellenistic period with the legendary culture of Anatolia. So we will take a look at the life of Midas, whose name is unforgettable in history.

Midas Becomes the King

Midas, known as Muşkili Mita in Assyrian sources, did not come from a noble family. Especially at that time, kingdom or state government was inherited from father to son or within the same lineage. But King Midas found himself as the sovereign with a fate.

The place where Mita came from was not at all related to Gordion (Ankara), the place where he ruled. Muşkili Mita came to the world in Telmessos, known today as the city of Fethiye, and had to leave the city with his mother and father. Their road traveled eastward, falling on Gordion, the capital of Phrygia, which was then called the Phrygian country. During their journey, Phrygian King Gordios passed away. It was not known how to choose a new king in Phrygia. According to the prophets, when there was chaos, the first person to enter the city gate must be king. The public accepted that and curiously watched the gate. King Midas was the first person to enter and found himself as king of the Phrygian State.

King Midas Legend
The wolf rock is located Yazilikaya (lit. ‘inscribed rock’), Phrygian Yazilikaya, or Midas Kenti (Midas city) which is Phrygian archaeological remains and inscription mentioning Midas.

Midas’s Donkey Ears

King Midas, who was born in 738 BC and died in 696 BC, became the legendary king of the Phrygian State, established in today’s Polatlı. He continued his life in Gordion. Even though he was a king, his life wasn’t easy. The biggest reason for that was the long, asymmetric ears he was born with. According to the examinations made, he acquired a disease when he is in the womb, causing his ears to grow asymmetrically. King Midas was quite ashamed of the condition and traveled with headgear. This situation, which attracted a great deal of public attention, became an important issue talked about over time.

According to the legend, the Greek God Apollo and the Ritual God Pan engaged in a music contest and appointed Midas as one of two judges. Pan played his flute very well, and Apollo played the lyric made of silver. The other judge chose Apollo in the competition, and Midas voted for Pan. Apollo was very angry and said, “If you cannot distinguish beautiful music, then your ears cannot be human ears!” Then, he gave Midas donkey ears.

King Midas Legend
Midas Tomb monument in Phrygian Valley, Turkey.

According to another legend, one day King Midas took off his headgear and placed it on the barber’s seat. The barber tried to hide the secret, but it became very heavy over time. The barber didn’t know what to do, so he went to a water well one day and revealed his secret by saying, “Midas’s Ears are donkey ears” into the water well. The water in the well took the secret and spread it to the reeds. The wind caught the secret from the reeds and distributed it to all the people. Later, Midas, who heard many people had been ridiculing his donkey ears, publicly begged God to fix his ears. Instead of fixing his ears, God took his life and saved him from this trouble.

Midas Touch

Legends and mythologies around Midas are not limited to this. The drama of King Midas, which is still in the midst of the mythological rumor described as the Midas touch, is quite striking.

King Midas Legend
Midas Monument of Ancient Midas City in Yazilikaya, Eskisehir.

According to mythology, while Satiros, a friend of Dionysus, the god of wine, was visiting Phrygia, he fell asleep in one of the rose gardens of King Midas. When King Midas saw Satiros sleeping in the rose garden, he picked him up and hosted him in the most beautiful palace for 10 nights. Dionysus was pleased with this situation and asked King Midas for his wishes. King Midas wished to turn everything he touched into gold in order to make his country richer. But after a while, this power to make everything he touched turn to gold, even his beloved, became problematic. It prevented him from eating and drinking water, which would cause death. Dionysus told Midas to bathe in the PactolosRiver. Legend has it that after King Midas was washed in this river, the river stones and the sands became gold. The river, which was called Pactolos, is none other than the Sart River, which flows into the Aegean Sea today.