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Did Midas Really Have the Golden Touch

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The Greeks were the first people to relate myths concerning King Midas’ golden touch, but the very way in which Midas became king is shrouded in myth and mystery. One of the most complete Midas origin legends was written by the second century AD Greek historian, Arrian. According to the historian, Midas’ father, Gordius, witnessed a miraculous event when an eagle perched on one of his wagons. An oracle told him to offer to Zeus at the site, which he did and also married the oracle who gave birth to Midas. Years later, the prophecy was fulfilled when Midas became king of the Phrygians.
“Now when Midas had grown to be a find fine and handsome man there was trouble and strife among the Phrygians, and an oracle told them that a wagon would bring them a king, who would put an end to their quarrels. While they were still debating what to do about these things, Midas with his father and mother drove up in the wagon and came to a stop at their place of meeting. Taking this to be the fulfilment of the oracle, the Phrygians decided that here was the man whom the god had foretold that a wagon would bring. So they put Midas on the throne, and he made an end of their trouble and strife and laid up his father’s wagon on the acropolis as a thank-offering to Zeus the King for sending the eagle.” <ref> Arrian. <i> The Campaigns of Alexander.</i> Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. (London: Penguin Books, 1971), Book II, 3</ref>
According to this legend, Midas may not have had the literal touch of gold, but his ascension to the throne was otherworldly and he did display a metaphorical golden touch by bringing different factions of Phrygians together. The legend of Midas’ golden touch, though, was retold in different legends, one of the most memorable being in Ovid’s <i>Metamorphoses</i>.

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