Midas or King Midas (in Greek Μίδας) is popularly remembered
in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he
touched into gold. This was called the Golden touch, or the
Midas touch. He bears some relation to the historical
Mita, king of the Mushki in Western Anatolia in the later
8th century BC.
Midas was king of Pessinus, a city of Phrygia, who as a
child was adopted by the king Gordias and Cybele, the
goddess whose consort he was, and who (by some accounts) was
the goddess-mother of Midas himself. Some accounts place
the youth of Midas in Macedonian Bermion (See Bryges) In
Thracian Mygdonia, Midas was known for his garden of
roses: Herodotus remarks on the settlement of the ancient
kings of Macedon on the slopes of Mount Bermion "the place
called the garden of Midas son of Gordias, where roses grow
of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing
fragrance". In this garden, according to Macedonians,
Silenos was taken captive. According to Iliad (V.860), he
had one son, Lityerses, the demonic reaper of men, but in
some variations of the myth he had a daughter, Zoe or "life"
instead. For the son of Midas, see Adrastus...
（*Mi/das), a son of Gordius, according to some by Cybele
(Hyg. Fab. 274), a wealthy but effeminate king of Phrygia, a
pupil of Orpheus, and a promoter of the worship of Dionysus
(Hdt. 1.14; Paus. 1.4.5; Aelian, Ael. VH 4.17; Strab. vii.
p.304). His wealth is alluded to in a story connected with
his childhood, for it is said that while yet a child, ants
carried grains of wheat into his mouth to indicate that one
day he should be the richest of all mortals (Cic. De Div.
1.36 ; V. Max. 1.6.3; Aelian, Ael. VH 12.45). His effeminacy
is described by Philostratus (Icon. 1.22; comp. Athen.
12.516). It seems probable that in this character he was
introduced into the Satyric drama of the Greeks, and was
represented with the ears of a satyr, which were afterwards
lengthened into the ears of an ass. He is said to have built
the town of Ancyra (Strab. xiii. pp. 568, 571; Paus. 1.4.5),
and as king of Phrygia lie is called Berecynthius heros (Ov.
Mlet. 11.106). In reference to his later life we have
several legends, the first of which relates his reception of
Seilenus. During the expedition of Dionysus from Thrace to
Phrygia, Seilenus in a state of intoxication had gone
astray, and was caught by country people in the rose gardens
of Midas. He was bound in wreaths of flowers and led before
the king. These gardens were in Macedonia, near Mount
Bermion or Bromion, where Midas was king of the Briges, with
whom he afterwards emigrated to Asia, where their name was
changed into Phryges (Hdt. 7.83, 8.138; Conon, Nrarrat. 1).
Midas received Seilenus kindly, conversed with him (comp.
Plut. Consol. ad Apoll.; Aelian, Ael. VH 3.18), and after
having treated him hospitably for ten days, he led him back
to his divine pupil, Dionysus, who in his gratitude
requested Midas to ask a favour. Midas in his folly desired
that all things which he touched should be changed into gold
(comp. Plut. Purall. Min. 5). The request was granted, but
as even the food which he touched was changed into gold, he
implored the god to take his favour back. Dionysus
accordingly ordered him to bathe in the source of Pactolus
near Mount Tmolus. This bath saved Midas, but the river from
that time had an abundance of gold in its sand (Ov. Mlet.
11.90, &c.; Hyg. Fab. 191; Verg. Ecl. 6.13). A second story
relates his capture of Satyrus. Midas, who was himself
related to the race of Satyrs, once had a visit from a
Satyr, who indulged in all kinds of jokes, and ridiculed the
king for his Satyr's ears. Midas, who had learnt from his
mother how Satyrs might he caught and brought to reason,
mixed wine in a well, and when the Satyr had drunk of it, he
fell asleep and was caught (Philostr. Vit. Apoll. 6.27).
This well of Midas was at different times assigned to
different localities. Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 1.2.13) places it
in the neighbourhood of Thymbrium and Tyraeum, and Pausanias
(1.4.5) at Ancyra Compp. Ath. 2.45; Plut. De Fluv. 10). Once
when Pan and Apollo were engaged in a musical contest on the
flute and lyre, Tmolus, or according to others (Hyg. Fab.
191, who speaks of the contest between Apollo and Marsyas),
Midas, was chosen to decide between them. Tmolus decided in
favour of Apollo, and all agreed in it except Midas. To
punish him for this, Apollo changed his ears into those of
an ass. Midas contrived to conceal them under his Phrygian
cap, but the servant who used to cut his hair discovered
them. The secret so much harassed this man, that as he could
not betray it to a human being, he dug a hole in the earth,
and whispered into it, "King Midas has ass's ears." He then
filled the hole up again, and his heart was released. But on
the same spot a reed grew up, which in its whispers betrayed
the secret to the world (Ov. Met. 11.146, &c.; Pers. Sat.
1.121 ; Aristoph. Pl. 287). Midas is said to have killed
himself by drinking the blood of an ox. (Strab. i. p.61;
Plut. De Superst. 7.)
[L.S] - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and
mythology, William Smith, Ed.