KING MIDAS

Real Name: Midas

Identity/Class: Mystically-altered human

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)

Aliases: None

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. As he transformed all he owned to gold, he also realized he could not eat or drink anything because his food and wine turned to gold. 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) - In 1953 a greedy man found the crypt of King Midas and summoned his spirit through a magic spell. The man forced Midas to give him the powers Midas possessed before his death, but just on his right hand. Midas did as he was asked to do and then returned to his eternal rest after telling the man that he would never again be able to call upon the help from the dead. Shortly after the used his new power, but was run over by a bus. He survived, but his right hand, the one with the golden touch, had to be amputated.

(Marvel Tales I#159 (fb) - BTS) - Under unrevealed circumstances, Midas lost his ass ears, but regained his golden touch. Possibly so that he wouldn't suffer, he became long-lived as he traveled the world trying either rebuilding his fortune or developing a means to remove his affliction

(Marvel Tales I#159) - In recent years, Si, a prospector searching for gold in the American Southwest began seeking a lost mine, and sought it out despite telepathic warnings which tried to persuade him to turn back. After finding it, he discovered someone else had beaten him to it. He confronted the stranger by grabbing him, but discovered too late that it was Midas after 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.

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.

by Will U

CLARIFICATIONS:
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
Marvel Tales I#159, page 4, panel 2


Appearances:
Strange Tales I#14 (January, 1953)
Marvel Tales I#159 (August, 1957)
Strange Tales I#89 (October, 1961) - Paul Reinman (artist), Stan Lee (editor)


Last updated: 03/19/14

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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