King Midas and the Golden Touch, is one of the most famous myths in western lore. It details the story of one man’s greed and lust for wealth leading to his ultimate downfall. Initially written by Ovid, in his Metamorphoses published in 8 A.D, it has been adapted and analyzed even in modern times. Written in Dactylic Hexameter, as customary of great mythological works of the time period, the poem effectively served as a part of a guide to life for the ancient Romans. The morals the story teaches are still applicable in this day and age. As the story is intertwined with the rest of the epic, it is important to evaluate the myth in an educated and modified light. In King Midas and the Golden Touch, Ovid deftly illustrates the importance of restraint by detailing King Midas’ suffering from his greed.
To fully understand the myth, one needs to explore its context. King Midas and the Golden Touch was written in the 11th book of the Metamorphoses. The two previous myths that led up to the story were the Death of Orpheus and the Transformation of the Maenads. Orpheus was a great musician and poet who often performed for the Olympian gods. Towards the end of his life, he refused to acknowledge all the gods and only played for Apollo. One day he went to the oracle of Bacchus, and blatantly disregarded him and instead paid homage to Apollo. Seeing this, infuriated Thracian women (Maenads) ripped him to shreds for not honoring Bacchus. Enraged at the death of the greatest poet and musician of the era, Lyaeus wanted to teach a lesson to the Maenads. He immediately transformed the Maenads into trees on the spot of the murder. Much like Daphne became a laurel tree, the Maenads became a ring of oak trees. Naturally Bacchus was upset with the pu...
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