- In modern usage, the Midas touch is a talent at succeeding financially at almost any enterprise. This is not the moral of the story, however. Midas was the king of ancient Phrygia, which is now central Turkey. In one myth, the tutor of Dionysus, Silenus, was brought in drunk to Midas, who recognized him and instead of meting out a punishment, treated him lavishly and took him back to Lydia and restored him to the god. Dionysus was so happy to see Silenus that he offered Midas whatever he wished. The king wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. Midas was at first delighted with the results, but his joy turned to horror when he realized that his food and drink were also being transformed. He finally prayed to lose his gift and was told by the god to wash in the River Pactolus, the sands of which were thenceforth filled with gold dust. Another story concerns a music contest between Apollo and Pan.When the judge awarded the prize to Apollo, Midas expressed his disagreement. Apollo thereupon gave him the ears of an ass for his folly. Although by wearing a cap, Midas succeeded in hiding his humiliation, he had to show his ears to his barber. This man, although ordered to keep the secret on pain of death, felt unable to keep quiet about it. So he dug a pit in the ground, whispered the news into its depths, and filled the pit in. Unfortunately for Midas, the soil put forth reeds which, when rustled by the breeze, whispered the truth to the whole world: "King Midas has ass's ears."
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.
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