Real Name: Midas
Identity/Class: Mystically-altered human (see
Occupation: Recluse, former king of Phrygia (7th century B.c.)
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Dionysus, Silenius
Enemies: Apollo, Si
Known Relatives: Gordius (father, deceased), Cybele
(mother), unnamed daughter, Zeus
(grandfather), extensive extended family via lecherous godly grandfather
Base of Operations: Mobile, formerly Ancyra, Phrygia in the Seventh Century
First Appearance: Strange Tales I#14 (January, 1953)
Powers/Abilities: Midas possesses the mystical
ability to turn anything that he touches into gold. He is also extremely
long-lived, having survived for over 2700 years. He also possesses the
powers of telepathy and teleportation.
History: (Greek-Roman Myth) - Midas was the king of
the Mygdonians of Phrygia. He supposedly founded the city of Ancyra
(Modern Ankara) and discovered both black and white lead, but became
obsessed with gold. As the god Dionysus wandered east to India, his
companion Silenius, a satyr, wandered into Midas' vine gardens and fell
asleep there. Peasants later discovered him mixing water in with the
wine. They caught him and turned him over to Midas, but Midas treated
the harmless old satyr graciously and hospitably. Dionysus rewarded
Midas for his kindness with any gift he desired as Midas rashly asked
for the gift of turning all he touched into gold. Dionysus reluctantly
complied even as he realized the recklessness of the wish. As the god
departed, Midas began enjoying his gift and established Dionysus as a
patron god in gratitude.
(Strange Tales I#89 (fb)) - (see comments) Midas
demonstrated his power to his subjects, transforming bowls and swords
into gold in front of them. However, he also realized he could not eat
or drink anything because his food and wine turned to gold.
(Greek-Roman Myth) - After his daughter turned to gold by accident, he began begging Dionysus to take back his gift. Dionysus responded it was not in his nature to take back gifts, but that Midas could wash off the golden touch in the nearby Pactolus River to be rid of it. After that, the sand in the river turned to gold.
Midas was sometime later chosen with king Tmolus of Lydia to judge a
music contest between a satyr named Marsyas and the god Apollo. Marsyas
played flutes made from the ribs of Medusa and Apollo played his lyre.
Tmolus awarded Apollo the title of being the better player for being
able to play his lyre upside down, a feat Marsyas could not do with his
flute. Midas, however, confessed that he thought Marsyas played better
and Apollo gave him the ears of an ass with which to hear better. Midas
concealed this deformity under a cap, which he removed only for
haircuts. He swore his barber under penalty of death to keep it secret,
but the strain of trying to keep it a secret became too great. The
barber had to dig a hole in a deserted meadow and whispered the secret
into it as often as he could to cope with it. Reeds, however, grew on
the spot and as the wind blew over them, they revealed the secret.
(Strange Tales I#14 (fb) - BTS) - Under unrevealed circumstances, Midas lost his ass ears, but regained his golden touch, but this caused him to starve to death because he couldn't eat or drink food without turning it into inedible gold. He was entombed after death in a crypt somewhere in Greece.
(Strange Tales I#14) - In 1953 a greedy man found the crypt of King Midas and summoned his spirit through a magic spell (see comments). The man forced Midas to give him the powers Midas possessed before his death, but just on his right hand, so that he could avoid starving to death like Midas. The spirit did as he was asked to do, warned the man that he would never again be able to call upon the help from the dead, and stated he would now return to his eternal rest. Shortly after the man used his new power, but was run over by a bus. He survived, but his left arm had to be amputated, leaving him only with his enchanted right and the promise of a slow demise.
(Marvel Tales I#159 (fb) - BTS) - Apparently now unable to
die, Midas ended up living as a hermit in a mine in the American
Southwest. To protect others from finding him and falling prey to his
curse, Midas set up telepathic warnings that made any who approached his
home become dizzy and disorientated, and if they still persisted, he
would make them pass out and teleport them further away.
(Marvel Tales I#159) - In recent years, Si, a prospector searching for gold in the American Southwest began seeking a lost mine. Initially he fell victim to dizzy spells as he headed towards the landmarks marked on the map he was following, Si realized someone was sensing he was coming by reading his mind and then causing the confusion to put him off. Blanking his mind to hide himself from the mind-reader, the determined Si made it to the mine. After finding it, he was approached by Midas, who identified himself and tried to convince Si to leave without taking any gold, lest it encourage others to come who might then fall prey to Midas' curse. Skeptically concluding the other man was a claim-jumper spinning a tall tale, Si grabbed him despite Midas' protests, and discovered too late that he had been told the truth when both his hands turned into gold.
(Strange Tales I#89 - BTS) - In the Twentieth Century, a wealthy and indulgent man named Simon Kluge became obsessed with the legend of Midas and somehow connected the story to a remote estate located somewhere in Europe. Tracking down its location, he found himself barred from entering it, but managed to climb the wall to gain entry and jumping over it into a well to break his landing. The owner of the estate screamed and pleaded for him not to make the jump, but Kluge emerged from the water and discovered that he now had the golden touch just as Midas. As he pulled on his gloves to protect himself from the curse, the gloves turned to gold too and he realized that he had underestimated the curse's power.
Comments: Adapted by Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott.
Historically, several records do exist of numerous kings bearing the names of Gordius and Midas, but their power was apparently broken by the invasions of the Cimmerians in the 7th Century BC. In the 6th Century BC, King Croesus of Lydia conquered all that was left of Phrygia and increased the wealth of his kingdom from the rich supply of gold in the river Pactolus where Midas has reportedly washed away his golden touch.
Mythologically, Midas is credited with founding Ancyra (modern Ankara), but the city actually predates him. It could be assumed he actually fortified the ancient city and expanded on it after the Phrygians took possession.
Concerning the story in Strange Tales I#89,
it's not revealed who the mysterious owner of the estate is, but it
could have been Midas hiding in self-imposed exile. Maybe Midas had
found a way to transfer the curse from his hands into the pool? Also,
Midas definitely does appear in the story, but in Kluge's imagining
how Midas' curse worked, so it wasn't the "real" Midas - nevertheless,
the events in this faux flashback are accurate to the legend as we
know it, and the depiction of Midas in Kluge's mind is surprisingly
consistent with his appearance in Marvel Tales I#159, so I've included
it here in the history regardless. Maybe the books Kluge had been
reading had included accurate drawings of what Midas looked like. -
According to myth, the first Gordius was a farmer who had tied a knot, which no man could untie. He became King of Phrygia and ancestor for the Gordian dynasty of Phrygia. His Gordian knot confounded all who tried to untie it. In the 4th Century BC, Alexander the Great conquered half of the world and as he encountered the knot, he sliced through it with his sword.
In the episode, "Martin Goldfinger" of the classic TV Series "My Favorite Martian," Martin claimed that the legend of Midas was blamed on a Martian stuck on earth in ancient times who experienced a vitamin deficiency. The side effects were that anything he touched turned to gold as Martin demonstrates when he contracts the same deficiency.
Thanks to Gammatotem for pointing out the
story in Strange Tales I#14. I wonder if one of the accounts told in the
1950s was wrong or if Midas' astral form was summoned from the American
Southwest and Midas only claimed to be dead to keep up the story about
his death in ancient Greece.
I think the apparent contradictions can be reconciled easily - while stating that he was doomed to live forever, he didn't actually say he'd been alive since ancient times. I think that despite his initial belief otherwise, the spell that brought him back in Strange Tales I#14 didn't allow him to return to his rest as desired. Instead he realized he would now forever be trapped in the land of the living; though corporeal (since Si the prospector was able to touch him), Midas is now stuck as a ghost, which might also explain his teleportation and telepathic powers. - Loki
by Will U
Midas is not to be confused with:
Cybele, mother of Midas and daughter of Zeus, should not be confused with:
Images taken from:
Marvel Tales I#159, page 3, panel 7 (main)
Strange Tales I#89, p20, pan6 (Midas, as visualized by Simon Kluge)
Strange Tales I#14, p19 (without ads), pan6 (Midas' ghost's headshot)
Marvel Tales I#159, page 4, panel 2 (living headshot)
Strange Tales I#14 (January, 1953) - Mike Sekowsky (pencils), Carmine Infantino (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Marvel Tales I#159 (August, 1957) - Syd Shores (art), Stan Lee (editor)
Strange Tales I#89 (October, 1961) - Stan Lee (plot, editor), Larry Lieber (script), Paul Reinman (artist)
First Posted: 07/07/2004
Last updated: 08/10/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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