Study Guide

King Midas

Introduction

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.

Best of the Web

King Midas Resources

Websites

From Beyond the Grave
Talk about old. UPenn will give you all the juicy deets on Midas's tomb. We have to ask: was it made of gold?

Movies and TV

Dionysus in His Element
Sippin' on some wine in Disney's Fantasia. No wonder he was granting such terrible wishes.

Pink Dionysus
Our favorite debaucherous god is back in Disney's Hercules.

Videos

Kermit Rocks the Golden Touch
The story of King Midas, Muppet-style.

Audio

Do the Lyrics Stack up?
"King Midas in Reverse," by The Hollies. Is this the same story?

Images

Nice Entry Sign
On our way into King Midas's tomb.