King of Phrygia
and in a way the personification of greed. When granted a wish from Dionysus,
he chose to have anything he touched turn into gold. This proved to be an
unwise decision, since even his food and drink was turned into gold when he
To get rid of the curse, he took a bath in the Pactolus River, which ever since then was said to contain gold.
Midas was also unfortunate enough to be chosen as a judge when Apollo and Pan competed as musicians. Because the king chose Pan, Apollo turned his ears into an ass's. Midas hid them from everyone, but he could not avoid showing his ears to his barber, who whispered the secret into a hole in the ground. When reeds had grown over the hole and the wind blew, the whisper could be heard: King Midas has an ass's ears…
The original story about Midas is not so well known. According to it, the king had put wine in the well of his garden to trick the satyr Silenus into sharing some of his wisdom. He managed to catch him, and Silenus revealed that the best thing for man is never to have been born, and that the second best is to die soon if one has been born.