Once upon a time there was a King named Midas (keep reading–you probably don’t know the whole sordid story).
Now, Midas was a twit of the Most Twitful Variety. He was also Stooopid. But he was king, so he pretty much got his way.
One day, a Rather Drunk Man riding (well, teetering on) a donkey showed up at the king’s palace. Because he was Extremely Bored, Midas went out to meet the RDM.
Lo and behold, it turned out that the RDM was less man and more demi-god and happened to be named Silenus who was the ex-teacher and now follower of Bacchus.
You may recall that Bacchus was in charge of vineyards (and more importantly the wine made from the grapes in the vineyard [not sure why it’s not vin from a vineyard…]) and Midas was Most Eager to meet Bacchus.
Off went Silenus and Midas (over the river and through the wood) and eventually they found Bacchus. Bacchus told Midas he could have one wish (and only ONE).
What would you wish for if you had only one wish?
Did I mention Midas’ twitness? Midas reached far back into his brain (which wasn’t very far at alll) and said he would like gold. Actually, what he said was that he wanted to be able to turn things into gold.
Bacchus rolled his eyes, told him he was an idiot, granted his wish, and sent him on his way.
Off Midas went (through the wood and over the river), turning random branches and trees into gold as he went. Midas was One Happy Dude.
Once he arrived home, Midas decided he was hungry and called for servants to bring him lunch. As you know, Midas couldn’t eat because everything turned immediately to gold and chewing gold was not a skill he’d acquired.
Some versions of the story say he touched his beloved daughter, turned her to gold, and lived miserably ever after. Nonsense. This is what the story really says.
Ai-yi-yi! said Midas as he figured out what an idiot he’d been. (Pay attention, this is probably the part of the story you don’t know.) Midas whined and wailed and gnashed his teeth and carried on at Great Legnth. And the gods heard him and said they would take back the “gift.”
Because with the gods, there is always a BUT.
Midas was told he needed to hike to a particular river and dunk his head in. Which he did (it was three days of hiking, you know). As soon as he immersed his head in the river, all the gold rushed out and into the sand and to this day if you go there, you will find gold in the river.
That is not the end of the story.
Just about the time Midas’ hair was dry, Pan came along (Pan was half man, half goat and was a pretty big party-er). Pan was playing his flute (the Pan flute–really) and boasting how he (Pan) was better than Apollo (god of the sun and music). This was not smart, especially since Apollo heard Pan.
Okey dokey, said Apollo, Game on.
Tmolus was called to be the judge. The two played and (duh) Apollo won and that should have been the end of it.
Except Midas was a twit. And he made the mistake of telling Pan that he (Midas) thought Pan was the better musician. This was not smart, especially since Apollo heard Midas.
Apollo was Not Amused. As he passed Midas, he whispered, “I thought you were a man–now I won’t be confused.” Or perhaps he whispered, “You’re an ass.” Either way, he gave Midas donkey ears.
So Midas ripped his cloak (kings wore cloaks in those days) and made himself an ear-covering hat. He told people he wore a hat because it helped with his headaches (which no one knew he’d been having).
That worked fine until (you knew there was an “until” didn’t you?)
Until it was time for Midas to have a haircut.
See the problem?
Midas swore the barber to secrecy, saying he must swear never to tell another human. Which worked fine. Until (you knew there had to be an “until” didn’t you?)
Until the barber was about to explode and whispered the secret in a hole in the ground. Reeds grew from that very spot and whispered Midas’ secret.
The barber had kept his promise, but still everyone knew.
The moral of the story? Sometimes it is better not to give your opinion.