This is a post for my March book challenge, #marchmonthofmythology.
Perhaps you know Midas as the guy who wished for everything he touched to turn into gold, and then quickly realised he hadn’t thought that through very well. But there is another myth about King Midas.
King Midas and his donkey ears
One day Midas was asked to be the judge of a music contest between Apollo and Pan. They both played amazingly, Apollo on his lyre and Pan on his pan flute. The nine Muses all thought Apollo was better (he was the god of music, after all), but to everyone’s surprise, Midas preferred Pan’s music. As Midas was the official judge, this meant Pan won the contest, but Apollo wasn’t about to accept this without a statement: he gave Midas donkey ears, because only a donkey would prefer Pan’s music over Apollo’s which was obviously objectively better. (At least, I think that was the reasoning behind it.)
Midas now had a problem: he would have to return home, to his kingdom, with big, hairy donkey ears on his head. No one would take him seriously like that! He was resolved to let nobody know. From that day on, he covered his ears with a very big hat – not ideal, but at least it would raise fewer questions than the donkey ears would. The only one who knew his secret was his hairdresser.
You might be able to imagine keeping a secret like that is not easy. Every time Midas would have his hair cut, the hairdresser would be faced with those ridiculous ears and the warning that he could never, ever tell anyone. The secret built up inside him until he could hold it in no longer. In the middle of the night he ran outside, dug a hole in the ground and whispered, ‘King Midas has donkey ears’. Relieved, the king’s hairdresser went back to bed.
What the hairdresser didn’t know, was that on the place he’d dug the hole, seeds were growing. Soon, a bed of reeds had grown on the place where the hole had been, and as the wind blew, the reeds rustled, whispering, ‘King Midas has donkey ears’. The wind took up the whisper – ‘King Midas has donkey ears. King Midas has donkey ears.’
And not long after, the whole city knew: ‘King Midas has donkey ears.’
Midas – golden books/letters
For my challenge prompt, I stuck to the more famous (but also more boring) story of King Midas. Did you know that story is used to explain how gold came to be found in some rivers? To be relieved from his curse, Midas was told to immerse himself in a nearby river, and specks of gold settled in the riverbed.
I also completely coincidentally bought a book about Greek and Roman myths recently that fits this prompt.