A Treasury of Literary Classics -
Greek Mythology Series


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King Midas and Golden Touch

"King Midas and the Golden Touch" is one of the most famous Greek myths. It was retold in different versions, with the most notable one in Ovid's Metamorphoses Book XI. The historical King Midas ruled the Near Eastern Kingdom of Phrygia in the late 8th to early 7th centuries B.C.. He made Phrygia the wealthiest and most powerful kingdom at the time. The legend of King Midas turning everything he touched to gold was a purely fictional story developed by the Greeks and Romans based on some degree of historical reality. King Midas did not have a literal golden touch, but his successful rule inspired writers to create such legends about him.

1. Which of the following adjectives does not describe King Midas at the beginning of the story?

A. powerful
B. greedy
C. content
D. wealthy

Your answer:

"He was, it is true, rather greedy, but on the whole no better and no worse than any other man. Midas had a loving wife and a daughter he adored, but he was still discontented."

2. "Roses of every shade grew there, and on warm summer nights the air was heavy with their fragrance."
In the above description of King Midas' garden, which two senses are appealled to?

A. sight
B. hearing
C. smell
D. taste
E. touch

Your answer:

Can you see, hear, smell, taste or touch the things mentioned in the description?

3. Which of the following descriptions of Silenus are true?

  1. He was part man and part animal.
  2. He was addicted to alcohol.
  3. He was the son of Dionysus.
  4. He was powerful but quick-tempered.
  5. He was a good entertainer and storyteller.

A. (i), (ii), (iii) & (iv)
B. (i), (ii), (iv) & (v)
C. (ii), (iv) & (v)
D. (i), (ii) & (v)

Your answer:

i: "The strange thing about these legs was that they had hoofs instead of feet."
ii: "He was holding an empty wine jar." & "I got lost, so I sat down for a drink," he told the king.
iii & iv: "Silenus began to look worried, for his master was the god Dionysus, who was not only powerful but also quick-tempered"
v: "The satyr stayed on in the palace, delighting the king with wonderful accounts of his adventures." & "I will entertain you with strange and wonderful tales, better than any you have heard before," he told the king.

4. Why was Silenus worried that Dionysus might be angry with him?

A. He finished all Dionysus's wine and held an empty jar.
B. He was drunk and acting foolishly again.
C. He was trespassing Dionysus's garden.
D. He roamed the world in search of adventure without Dionysus's consent.

Your answer:

" If you will overlook my foolishness, I will entertain you with strange and wonderful tales."

5. Why did Dionysus grant King Midas a wish?

A. to honour King Midas and show respect
B. to ask King Midas to overlook his foolishness
C. to thank him for taking care of Silenus
D. to trick King Midas and teach him a lesson

Your answer:

"He wanted to thank Midas for taking care of the old satyr and offered the king any gift he cared to name."

6. Arrange the events in the correct order based on the story.

  1. King Midas turned his food and drinks into gold.
  2. King Midas got the power of a golden touch as a gift from Dionysus.
  3. King Midas turned his daughter into a lifeless statue.
  4. King Midas turned the flowers and bushes in his garden into gold.

A. (ii) --> (iii) --> (i) --> (iv)
B. (ii) --> (i) --> (iii) --> (iv)
C. (ii) --> (iii) --> (iv) --> (iii)
D. (ii) --> (iv) --> (i) --> (iii)

Your answer:

7. Match the following feelings with the four events to show the change in the mood of King Midas.

A. grief B. doubt C. joy D. regret
Event Feeling
7a. King Midas turned his food and drinks into gold.
7b. King Midas got the power of a golden touch as a gift from Dionysus.
7c. King Midas turned his daughter into a lifeless statue.
7d. Kind Midas turned the flowers and bushes in his garden into gold.

7a: "He knew that he had made a terrible mistake and decided to beg Dionysus to take back his gift."
7b: "The god granted his wish, and Midas was jubliant."
7c: "His grief was so great that nobody could console him."
7d: "Suddenly Midas felt doubtful."

8. What was the way to undo the curse of the golden touch?

A. to kneel beside Dionysus and beg for forgiveness
B. to wash the curse off in the water of River Pactolus
C. to walk for many miles over rough and stony ground
D. to jump into the river and never return home

Your answer:

"Dionysus told him to find the river Pactolus and wash himself in its waters."

9. Which proverb / idiom below can express the moral of the story

A. Be careful with what you wish for.
B. Do as you would be done by.
C. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
D. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Your answer:

Consider the meaning of the proverbs:
A: Think before you say that you want something. You may not actually want it.
B: Treat other in the way you want to be treated.
C: People always envy what others have.
D: Don't quesiton the value of a gift.

10. It is common to hear "everything someone touches turn into gold" in modern English. The idiom "the Midas touch / the golden touch" comes from this myth and is used to mean that someone has ...

A. supernatural power.
B. insatiable greed.
C. a good fortune.
D. a contented mind.

Your answer:

Gold is a valuable metal and a symbol of wealth.

King Midas and Golden Touch

Score Sheet

Questions Results
Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5
Question 6
Question 7a
Question 7b
Question 7c
Question 7d
Question 8
Question 9
Question 10

Extension: Think and Share

11. There is an old saying, "A contented mind is a perpetual feast." At the end of the story, King Midas learned his lesson and became content. Are you content with your life? Share your view on the proverb with reference to your life experience.

12. What are some of the precious and priceless things that money cannot buy? List them and choose one that you would like Dionysus to give you if you were King Midas. Share your answers and the reasons with your classmates.