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King Midas: Not Just a Greek Myth

The various homeschooling families living in Ankara packed up the kids and a seven-car caravan traveled just one hour southwest of Ankara to the city of Afyon.

Afyon is located in the southwest area of Ankara in the Anatolia Region, the central plateau region of Turkey, which includes Ankara, the capital city, in its upper northeast corner.

We drove to the outskirts of Afyon, and went right, north, and drove through lush poppy fields and narrow roads for only 15 minutes until we arrived at the ancient villages of the Phrygian Kingdom of King Midas. I really had thought in my vague memories of Greek mythology that King Midas was totally just a myth.

We all learned that Spring day that King Midas actually lived, and in fact, there was probably more than one King Midas.

The ancient Greek myth goes like this:

"King of Phrygia, Midas, was known for his wisdom but also his greed. Although one of the most known kings of his time, a fanatic lover of the Arts and Culture, creator of a gorgeous rose garden, Midas was known to be extremely greedy, trying to accumulate the largest amount of money and wealth in the known world.

According to the Greek myth, God Dionysus found himself in Phrygia once celebrating with his Satyrs and creatures. Silenus, one of the Satyrs, entered the sacred Rose garden of Midas and the guards brought the intruder to the King.

Midas recognized the follower of Dionysus and decided not to punish him, especially since Silenus decided to stay at the court entertaining Midas with frantic stories about the pleasures of life. God Dionysus was pleased with Midas and his decision not to punish Silenus, thus asked Midas what he wanted the most from his life in order to return the favor.

Midas said that he wished everything he touched could turn to gold. Although Dionysus warned Midas about the potential dangers of such a wish, Midas insisted on it and Dionysus granted him with the infamous Midas Touch" (1).

Midas soon learned that he couldn't even eat - EVERYTHING he touched turned to gold.

In western culture, we often refer to the "midas touch" to refer to people who are financially successful in everything they do.

We enjoyed seeing the tiny Museum across the street from the Midas tomb. The museum was the perfect size for children tired of walking - literally two rooms, but filled with fabulous treasures from the Hittite, Phrygian, and Lydian periods. We saw jewelry, toiletry articles, mummies, instruments, vases, tools, and more. It was better than a textbook!

We had time to drive to the ancient Midas palace nearby, and walk through the cowpatties as we surveyed the ruins. We did have to pay to go into the museum, but tourists and residents can now buy museum passes which lower costs, and we were not charged for children under 12.

Sources:
1. http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/myth-king-midas-gold/
2. Discovery Channel's Insight Guide to Turkey. APA Publications. 1999

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