rss twitter

Down the Rabbit Hole
Paul Kiritsis, PsyD candidate, DPhil., MA (Psychology), MA (History)

logo

The Midas Touch: Gift or Curse?

Paul Kiritsis - Friday, January 20, 2012

When one is told that they possess the Midas touch, what is being inferred is that they are harbingers of good luck and serendipity, or proliferators of ‘gold’. Many people would have heard this figure of speech being used in conversation, though it is impossible to understand without knowledge of the beautiful myth which underpins the saying. The tale itself, retold here in my own way, first appears in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

 

One might think of King Midas of Phrygia as the universal archetype of an imprudent and senseless man who temporarily succeeded in plunging neck-deep in the sugar-laid oppressive opulence of unprecedented riches, but as good old’ Mother Nature would have it, was robbed of the chance to enjoy their far-reaching material merits primarily because his intellectual capacity and ability to reason was vastly limited. The story of King Midas serves to illuminate the ironic tragedy at the heart of the human condition and bring to our collective consciousness the unusually high incidence of human stupidity. Moreover it offers a reverberating moral, that being that the acquisition of affluence means absolutely nothing if its inheritor is mentally and spiritually ungrounded, or void of the astute and adroit judgement so characteristic of intellectual thought.  

Midas was blessed because he had been raised in Phrygia, the land of milk and honey. The latter was like the womb of the Earth Mother; even the stubbornest plants and trees which might demand very explicit weather conditions for growth would take root there. Phrygia’s floral emblem was the rose, and rightfully so, given that the famed flower grew there in profusion. Midas’s palace was decked in lush gardens containing roses of every shape, size and description. There were rusty and scarlet five-petalled reds, golden yellows, inbred blues, coral pinks, and creamy virgin whites. Even more remarkable was the intoxicating fragrance that emanated from them; walking through the labyrinth pathways that circumscribed the gardens was akin to experiencing nitrogen narcosis when one dived down into the cavernous depths of the sea.

One afternoon, whilst Midas’s servants were out and about enacting their usual maintenance duties, they discovered an elderly man sleeping amongst a grove of roses. They aptly came to the conclusion that he was a casualty of the Dionysiac rites that had transpired the evening before. The intoxication intrinsic to the Dionysiac way had robbed him of his noonday senses and had severed him from the long train of orgiastic dancers that passed near the Midian gardens tracing out invisible S-bends and meanders in the early hours of the morning. Wishing to amuse and impress their king, the servants garnered a spectacle fit for royal eyes by entwining the drunken man in rose garlands and decking him in a crown of bird feathers. They proceeded to hoist him to his feet and carry him to Midas’s royal chambers in a semi-conscious state. The only thing that issued from the elderly man’s mouth during the small pilgrimage to the palace was a verbal sandwich of “ous” and ‘ahs”, and the occasional groan. Miraculously the servants succeeded in extracting a name–Silenus, or old Silenus, as the vast majority of the townsfolk identified him.

Midas, himself a self-proclaimed adherent and avid fan of the Dionysiac rites, found Silenus to be immensely flamboyant and entertaining, and decided on the spur of the moment to accommodate him in the residential quarters of his palace as an honoured guest. About ten days elapsed before the novelty of his newfound entertainment had worn off, at which time Midas happily agreed to escort the old Silenus back to the gargantuan grapevines in northern Phrygia, Dionysus’s corporeal home. Midas had never been in the presence of a god before, so one can imagine his surprise and awe at seeing the divinity suddenly acquire anthropomorphic form from a clump of grapes that dangled from a colossal vine to his side.     

“Thanks for bringing back one of my most faithful proselytes,” said Dionysus.

“No problems.” Midas said, smiling.

“No, thank you,” he said, stepping forward and putting a hand on his shoulder. “And to show you how grateful I am, I shall bestow any gift your heart desires.”

“Are you for real?” Midas’s eyes widened. “You’re not just pulling my leg, are you?”

“Try me,” the god prompted.

“Anything I want?”

“Sure,” Dionysus assured.

‘Like anything?”

“Yes.”

Midas’s mouth curled up into a grin. “I want everything I touch to turn to gold.”

“You sure about that Midas?”

“Of course I’m sure,” Midas said. “Why else would I demand if I wasn’t sure?”

“Think about it.”

“I have,” Midas said. “Just do it already.”

“Fine,” Dionysus said, stepping forward and exhaling onto Midas’s face. ‘All done.”

‘What’s done?”

“What you asked,” Dionysus said. “Check it out.”

Midas was puzzled. “How?”

“Touch something Your Majesty.”

Midas reached out and touched a chair, which instantly began to phosphoresce with a golden hue. “It’s gold!”

“So it is!”

“Look at this,” he said, trudging up to a cup and putting his index finger on it. The cup’s internal composition changed instantly. “It’s made of gold now.”

“Riveting,” said Dionysus.

“You!” Midas sprinted towards a sluggish-moving lizard. “You’d make a great addition to my collection of animal statues,” he blurted, tapping the lizard on its head. “You’re gold now.”

“You have been blessed!” Dionysus ridiculed.

“Oh, for sure,” Midas said. “What else around here should I turn into gold?” Midas asked. “Gold, gold, gold!”  

“Hmm… I think your gold-making efforts have exhausted you Midas,” Dionysus teased, offering him a platter of lush grapes. ”Here’s a little something to replenish your reserves.”

“Thanks,” Midas said, taking the grapes from Dionysus. After a few seconds, his smile vanished.

“What’s wrong?”

“Well, they’re gold.”

“You like to state the obvious don’t you?” Dionysus asked.

“I can’t eat these,” said Midas.

“Not unless you render the yellow metal into a colloidal solution,” said Dionysus, taking a sip of wine from his chalice.   

“What in Zeus’s name are you talking about? Midas asked. “I need to be able to turn it off so I can eat and drink, otherwise I’ll die of thirst or starvation.”

“That wasn’t part of the deal,” Dionysus pointed out.

“I hadn’t thought about it,” Midas admitted.

“I don’t believe you encompass that possibility,” said Dionysus.

“Excuse me?”

“Thinking,” Dionysus said, taking another sip of wine. “It’s not indigenous to your being.”

“What will I do now?” Midas asked.

“Start thinking for a start,” Dionysus said. “Wishing is such a barren enterprise when it is a by-product of thoughtlessness.”

“Help me.”

“Or nonsensicalness,” Dionysus continued.

“Please help me,” said Midas, dropping to his knees.

Dionysus ignored him. “Or stupidity Midas, a quality which you express in profusion.”

“I don’t want it anymore,” said Midas.

“What? The gift or the gold you just made?”

“Both.”

“You’ll need a time-machine to go into the future and discover the secrets of colloidal gold, which is edible… drinkable I should say. There you go, problem solved.”

“‘Why are you doing this to me?” Midas asked. “I made a mistake; surely you can see and forgive that. Don’t let me starve, I beg you.”

“I’d help you, Midas but I can’t,” Dionysus informed. “Once a god bestows a divine gift or power upon a mortal it can never be retracted.”

“So I’m going to die,” said Midas “Great.”

“Look,” Dionysus said. “There is one way to jettison the gift.”

“How?”

“Go to the origin of Pactolus,” Dionysus said. “Go to the great spring which feeds that great river. Once you are there, submerge yourself entirely in its waters.”

“Will the River Pactolus take it away?”

“It will cleanse you of divine touch,” Dionysus said. “Sadly, that’s the only thing it will cleanse you of.”

‘What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Think about it,” Dionysus said. “You need to start thinking remember.”

“I will go to Pactolus,” Midas said. “Soon… tonight even.”

“Go then,” Dionysus prompted him, “and never forget that the art of wishing is an art that brings gold to the ripened intellect, one with a functioning moral compass attached to it that always points due north.”

Midas scratched his head. “Due north?”

“Yes, the direction you’ll be moving in later today and for the remainder of your life,” Dionysus said. “Literally and spiritually.”  

Through Dionysus’s kind intervention, Midas was able to jettison the gold-making gift that gradually revealed itself as a curse. What he never managed to lose though was his mental incapacity. From that perspective he never got anywhere near north. Just as a leopard may never change its spots, so too was King Midas forever bound to foolishness. Sometime after his wishing folly, Midas was approached by the Olympian godhead and asked to judge a musical contest between Apollo, the god of music, light and poetry, and Pan, the god of fertility and sexual gratification. The latter was no stranger to music and could belt out some very pleasing tribal and rustic tunes on his reed pipes, but he was often made to look amateurish and untutored before the music of the heavenly spheres spawned by the supernal Apollo. Anyone who ever heard Apollo strumming his silver lyre became entranced; his melodies were so sweet and syrupy, so harmonic and otherworldly, so readily able to evoke the spectrum of emotions, that the only compositions that could compare were those spun by the choir of the Muses.

With no faculty of higher intellect to guide him, Midas espoused an honest affinity with Pan’s performance and indicated this preference by handing him his palm. One might say that Midas’s decision explicated just how low he would have scored on a modern IQ test. Not only did he prefer a lesser, rudimentary form of musical entertainment to a lyre that sounded like the orchestra of the rotating heavenly spheres, he made the tragic mistake of unwisely electing a lesser powerful entity as his victor. Judging a lesser being as being nobler or “fairer” in appearance or ability than an Olympian was foremost of the ways one attracted to themselves the anger or vehemence of the latter. Nonetheless Apollo did not take offence at Midas’s decision for it was void of the ambrosial and intellectual commodity known as thought. He did, however, make his feelings known by changing Midas’s ears into those of an ass. Through no fault of its own and pertaining to its own intrinsic nature, the ass is an animal equipped with very limited intellectual capacity, as well as with a pair of ears untutored to higher understanding and learning that prove the rule. Given that Midas encompassed both, Apollo reasoned that he may as well adopt some of the ass’s physiognomy.  

Midas’s newfound ears embarrassed him so much that he had a hat specifically made to shroud them. Nobody ever saw them, save the poor servant responsible for his physical maintenance. On many occasions, the servant would snigger quietly to himself as he snipped the hair around the king’s ears. Midas had managed to convince him to take an obligatory oath of silence regarding the disfigurement, but the grossly misshapen ears were of such an intriguing and mesmerising nature that the servant’s will to speak openly about them could not be contained. One day, the servant dashed out to a nearby plantation where he dug a shallow pit and whispered the words, “King Midas has asses’ ears”, into it. The act of blurting out the secret in the presence of only Mother Nature herself relieved the servant of the sudden urge to divulge the secret without actually breaking the oath, but it also had the adverse effect of imprinting the surrounding soil with knowledge of the fact. When spring finally came the reeds which sprouted from the small pit would disclose Midas’s unfortunate condition each time they were rustled by the breeze, rendering the secret common knowledge to all who loitered about.

In hindsight, it would be fitting to suggest that the tale of Midas is an allegory for the most tragic aspect of the human condition; the seed of wisdom, knowledge and an antidote to inanity might very well be latent in those deemed ignorant by the philosopher or spiritual teacher, but it is entirely absent in the idiot or imbecile. One cannot make gold from lead or dust if the kernel of becoming isn’t contained from the very beginning in as much as an adult cannot be expected to make moral choices in life if they have not been properly fitted with the correct ethical compass from birth. Utilizing one’s thought processes goes a very long way also. They were bestowed to human beings by the superior intellect for a reason.           

      

Comments
http://www.sharearticle.us/ commented on 19-Jul-2013 10:48 PM
It happens every Valentine's Day: Someone publishes a list of romantic movies to rent for the perfect Valentine's date.
There are actually movies out there that you can enjoy together on Valentine's Day. Ha" They hook up and the drama repeats. The whole thing culminates in one of the emotional movies that make you cry. The Holiday 2006 with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, a rich girl and how they hopelessly fall in love. But at the end of the year when everything seems brighter, people nicer, and miracles possible.
beachbody derm exclusive review commented on 26-Aug-2013 10:54 AM
I think this is one of the most significant information for me.

And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on
few general things, The web site style is great, the articles is really excellent : D.
Good job, cheers
stairlifts commented on 05-Sep-2013 04:51 AM
Even though your house loses the external electrical power, your
battery in the stairlift will be good for heaps of trips.




Among the best options for stairlifts is AC powered stairlifts which are created for home use because of the safety and convenience of
use.
adultfriendfinder commented on 09-Sep-2013 03:25 AM
Terrific work! This is the type of information that are meant to
be shared across the net. Shame on Google for not positioning this publish upper!
Come on over and consult with my web site .
Thank you =)
tailoring commented on 11-Sep-2013 11:18 PM
Right here is the perfect blog for everyone who really wants to find out about
this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa).
You certainly put a new spin on a subject that's been discussed for many years.
Great stuff, just great! tailoring
Steffen commented on 15-Sep-2013 03:35 PM
Keep up the excellent job and delivering in the crowd!



my web site;gold Plating At home Jewelry
Jannette commented on 22-Sep-2013 01:22 AM
On the concluding note, to believe or not to believe in fat loss 4 idiots review.
potty training checklist commented on 22-Sep-2013 08:20 AM
Moreover, one needs to verify the regular bowel movements potty training
girls of potty training boys should be different.
girls potty commented on 22-Sep-2013 11:48 AM
During the potty training boys that can help you in
surviving an entire day of potty training, one has to observe
whether the child is ready. Your daughter will form a
special bond with the doll, who coincidentally enough is also ready to be potty trained, and
faster to learn. There are no fixed training methods for potty training tends to come later in boys than for girls.

While teaching your little girl potty training methods, she will soon get
used to sitting on it.
http://pottytraining.mypress.info commented on 22-Sep-2013 05:08 PM
Matter of Fact - You always want potty training kids to praise your child, this is not the easiest thing to do is hold your fort.
It will really make your boy get pleasure from this so much more, and
discovering the look of such watches is very fascinating for toddlers, and they can really work wonders!
I quickly realized that it was time to use the bathroom until I wanted to pull my hair out, when his father
told him to try and go, he went in effortlessly.
auravie skin care reviews commented on 23-Sep-2013 12:18 PM
Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

After all I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I am hoping you
write again soon!
starting potty training commented on 23-Sep-2013 12:28 PM
However, before you can even consider being successful there are some steps you need to know as well as they will be successfully trained.
Step#5 Use Diapers At NightLastly, when you have survived an entire
day, you can then initiate the toilet and explain that this is
what grown up boys do. Sure, you'll mortal to Dealing with
potty-training cleanup both messes, but When to start
potty training, contact your family physician.
potty training commented on 23-Sep-2013 12:32 PM
There are a lot of information on potty training boys should be different.

Third, make a potty training kid trip to the lavatory together with your boy.
Step#2 Praise HerOnce your little princess potty trained at
the right time for burglary the right time to for them to connect potty training kid the act of drinking and peeing.
Because boys generally urinate sitting down first, that way the get used to the chair.
kollagen intensiv best price commented on 25-Sep-2013 01:03 PM
Appreciation to my father who stated to me regarding this web
site, this web site is in fact remarkable.
magic mesh best price commented on 25-Sep-2013 11:31 PM
Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much,
However I am going through issues with your RSS. I don't understand why I am unable to join it.

Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues?
Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!
Shaun T Focus T25 Review commented on 26-Sep-2013 12:35 AM
What's up all, here every one is sharing such know-how, so it's nice to
read this weblog, and I used to pay a quick visit this weblog everyday.
Luciana commented on 26-Sep-2013 01:16 AM
I-t features an original modular rail system.




Many chair lifts include multiple braking systems for your security.
Being electrical devices, naturally, electro-mechanical braking normally comes standard.

Also visit my blog post ::stairlifts
justcloud vs dropbox review commented on 26-Sep-2013 05:27 AM
Hello, I wish for to subscribe for this webpage to obtain most up-to-date updates, therefore where can i do it please assist.
does green coffee bean max work commented on 26-Sep-2013 05:28 AM
Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you
if that would be ok. I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward
to new posts.
boilers commented on 26-Sep-2013 08:26 PM
I'm impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter
a blog that's both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on
the head. The issue is an issue that too few people are speaking
intelligently about. Now i'm very happy that I found this during my search for something concerning this.
where to buy zyppah rx commented on 27-Sep-2013 12:09 AM
Great article, exactly what I wanted to find.
does flash and go device work? commented on 27-Sep-2013 06:33 AM
Hey there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this
site? I'm getting tired of Wordpress because I've had issues with hackers
and I'm looking at options for another platform.
I would be great if you could point me in the direction of
a good platform.
inkgrabber.com review commented on 27-Sep-2013 07:13 AM
This post is genuinely a pleasant one it helps new net users, who are wishing for blogging.
does beachbody derm exclusive really work commented on 27-Sep-2013 02:03 PM
Hello there I am so grateful I found your web site, I really found
you by error, while I was searching on Bing for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to
say thanks for a remarkable post and a all round interesting blog (I also love
the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it
and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the great b.
silkn flash and go hair removal system commented on 27-Sep-2013 02:14 PM
I like reading through a post that will make people think.
Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

Log in to comment on this post

Trackback Link
http://www.paulkiritsis.net/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=7913&PostID=323782&A=Trackback