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King Midas

In a Nutshell

Let's see…

  • Some dude gets super drunk and passes out in a garden. (Don't try this at home.)
  • There's a ten-day long party. (Yes, please.)
  • There's a guy who turns everything he touches into gold. (Sweet!)
  • And there's an appropriately cheesy moral about being greedy. (Had to have it.)

Sounds like fun, right? Please note that Shmoop does not suggest getting drunk and passing out in a garden. It never works out well. In fact, you'll find that it didn't work out well for these guys, either. Passing out in random gardens is definitely a no-no.

You still don't look convinced that you should care.

Okay, you got us. The story of King Midas can be a little boring. But the truth is that sometimes you have to push through a boring story to get at the more interesting conversation underneath. King Midas is a lasting force in modern culture. Many of you have probably heard of him—he's, "that dude who turns stuff into gold."

Yep, this is the fairytale character who teaches us greed is bad. Or wait a second. When we see a successful businessman we might say, "He has the golden touch." Just like Midas. So maybe Midas is the fairytale character who teaches us greed is good?

  • Is greed good or bad?
  • How do we know?
  • How much money do you have to make to be greedy?
  • If you make lots of money but then give some to charity, are you still being greedy?

Aha! See? Now we're having an interesting and meaningful discussion. And it's all because we stuck it out through the boring story of King Midas. Learning takes effort. Sometimes that effort means being bored until you understand exactly what it is you're learning about. So suck it up. This is how we roll.


Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this myth connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop

Both Silenus and Dionysus both get shout-outs as characters in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

Geoffrey Chaucer retells part of King Midas's story in "The Wife of Bath's Tale," part of his oh-so-huge tome, The Canterbury Tales.

You're probably not surprised to hear that Ovid takes a stab at the Midas story in his comprehensive—and very poetic—book of myths, Metamorphoses.

There Is No Dog is filled with Biblical allusions, but Greek myths—including King Midas—don't get left in the dust.

And of course there's Dante. Always ready with a learned shout-out.

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