Wise King Midas



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Wise King Midas

Eric Smith

Based on the Myth: Midas and the Golden Touch


Sand washes over the mosaic of a man kneeling next to a golden girl.



Midas' face and darkness. That is all that may be seen. A
sober, majestic look is upon the man's face as he stares
straight ahead; a thousand miles into the distance.

Once upon a time, before the nations
of Greece or Rome but after the time
of Babylon the Great there was a
kingdom. This kingdom had a ruler.
His name was Midas.

A crown is placed upon MIDAS and he bows his head in

Now above all he loved gold.


MIDAS coos and awes as he runs gold coins through is hand
and fondles a magnificent golden vase on a small table in
the center of the room. The entire room is full of gold.
It is highlighted in the center by the only light in the
room, a square hole in the ceiling which shines down upon
the little table in the center of the room and the beauty of
the objects in question which MIDAS is examining. In the
dark he smiles to himself.

Midas loved gold so much that he
could not stand to have it seen in
public and would squirrel it all
away to one dark corner of the palace
basement; a dungeon which Midas
created for himself and his precious
commodity. But it was not enough,
in his greed he was unsatisfied with
the riches he amassed for himself
and he called daily for more and

Midas screams at servants who bow obediently.


The only other thing which Midas
loved above all was his daughter, Zoë, who he considered his own little goddess.

ZOE runs through the meadow, golden hair streaming behind
her, clasping little yellow wildflowers against her chest.
Her pink cheeks are blushed with the exertion of her running. Her dimples shine through the rosy haze and her smile is exuberant. She is giggling and laughing out loud as she evades an apparently imaginary foe. Breathlessly, she halts under a tree and looks around unable to find the object of her attention. Suddenly from behind her on the other side of the tree MIDAS jumps and brings her to the floor of the meadow tickling and her and laughing as she loses her flowers to the ground. MIDAS is a strong man, large, and regal. His short beard is brown but grey hairs peek from the inside. His laugh is loud and boisterous and his eyes are alive with his smile.

Oh, Father, now I've lost my
beautiful, golden flowers!

ZOE scrambles to pick them from the ground and MIDAS helps
her as he recovers from his laughter. He pears softly at
the Marigolds in his hand and a twitch appears at the edge
of his lips. A thought is forced into the open.

(almost whispering)
How much fairer would be your flowers
were they of real gold, Zoë?

ZOE smiles as she looks up at him with a devious grin.

Not all of us can have the riches of
King Midas, Father.

MIDAS smiles back at her.

Ah, but some of us can.
(getting to his feet)
Now, you had better catch me or else
you will never see your precious
flowers again!

With a leap MIDAS is on his feet and flying back down the
meadow towards the royal palace, his daughter close in chase.


MIDAS runs through the woods adjacent to the meadows not
noticing that his daughter is far behind him. Before long
he finds himself standing on the edge of a rocky river, his
sandals already standing in an inch of water. He looks around him for his daughter but she is nowhere to be found.


Finally, he looks towards the river and there, lying on the
pebbly beach of the river is a fish. MIDAS looks at it
amazed. It is no ordinary fish, it was monstrous, huge, and
very much alive. It thrashes its fins back and forth but to no avail. The fish could not move. MIDAS approaches and looks upon the pathetic creature. Its eyes lolled in its head and its mouth gasped for life giving water. MIDAS, in a sincere act of mercy goes to the fish and lifts if from the shallows. As it is held in his arms the fish stops struggling and lies still. Then, to MIDAS' surprise as soon as the fish is set back in the deeper water it transforms into a girl with blonde hair. One of the fairest young women which MIDAS has ever seen. For only a moment she stares into MIDAS' eyes and then with a kick of her legs she is gone into the water. Midas is aghast with amazement. Surely this could not really have happened! One more surprise awaits MIDAS. As he turns to look once again towards the river, he sees something which has not been there before. Standing on the surface of the water is a RIVER GODDESS clothed all in white with a crown of watercresses and gold. Her long hair falls to her waist and on her face is a small smile.

Greetings, wise King Midas.

MIDAS backs slowly away from the river, afraid to trample on
holy ground and afraid he may in some way have offended the

Yes, my Lady. What have I done to
earn the honor of your attention?

The RIVER GODDESS turns her head and her smile grows wider.

My dear Midas, do you not know?
You saved my daughter from drowning
on the rocks and we owe you our thanks
for your honorable service.

MIDAS' eyes widen as he realizes what this means. Quickly,
he realizes what he may attain.

My Lady, happy was I to render the
service and happy am I to receive
your thanks.

One with I will grant you Midas in
return for rescue. One only. What
do you desire above all else?

In MIDAS mind he knows immediately what he wants, yet he
takes a moment to ponder to think of the wonder of it; of
glory which he is about to receive.

My Lady, if I could ask one thing of
It would be that everything I touch
be turned to gold.

A smile widens over MIDAS' face as the smile upon the goddess' face fades away.

Are you sure this is what you desire,
wise King Midas?

(in an awed whisper)

Then you shall have it. At dawn's
first light tomorrow you shall achieve
the ability to turn whatever you
touch to gold.

And with that the RIVER GODDESS is gone, vanished into the
water. A fire is ignited in MIDAS' eyes. His joy he finds
hard to contain. With a dash of boyish spryness he bounds
into the woods back home.


The sun has yet to rise but the birds have begun to sing as
MIDAS sits in his garden. His back is arched over himself
as he sits on the stone bench. His robes drape him in the
morning stillness. Quietly he sits fidgeting, like a child
waiting unwrap a gift, waiting for the first ray of morning
light. Finally, the first beam shines over the wall of garden onto MIDAS' face. He looks up into the light and smiles. Suddenly, his clothes are no longer royal red; they are a smooth gold mesh. MIDAS jumps to his feet and laughs. He runs to the nearest rose bush, draped with large, sweet smelling flowers. He sniffs the poignant and then with the brushes the flower with his fingertip. In a quick
transformation the flower turned gold from the root of the plant to last petal on the flower itself. MIDAS stares in quiet reverie. He turns and walks toward the small fountain on a pedestal behind him. With a quick touch of his finger the fountain transforms into gold and slowly flowing gold replaces the water in the fountain, a stream of yellow, glittering liquid. A small humble smile slowly creeps across MIDAS' face.

You shall be my glory.


MIDAS enters the dining room in glorious regality. He sits
at the table where breakfast is set. Wonderful meats,
steaming with perfect juices, eggs fried to perfection, fruits of every type, golden brown rolls all set in the most
beautiful of silver dishes. MIDAS sits at the table and
inhales the smell. Ready to feast to his new ability MIDAS
takes is fork and knife to his hands. Immediately, they
turn to shimmering gold. MIDAS looks at them and smiles.
Touching his plate the golden place setting is complete. A
small frown comes upon MIDAS' face. Quickly, he takes the
things in his hands and carries them to a cabinet to the
side of the room.

(to himself, with a
We mustn't keep such valuable dishes
out in the open must we.

A smile returns to MIDAS' face. He reaches down and takes a
glass of water from the pitcher of water sitting on the
cabinet top. Before he can take a sip, however, the pitcher
and cup are gold. A frown comes upon his face again. He
pours the liquid inside the pitcher into the new gold cup.
Pure gold. That is all that is inside. MIDAS absentmindedly
sets the things back on the cabinet top and returns to the
table. He sits in his freshly golden chair. For a moment
he pauses staring at the table top. Its glorious foods plead
to him, waiting for him to take a bite. Slowly MIDAS reaches
out a hand to take a plain, fresh, steaming roll. A trembling finger touches the roll and in only a moment it is completely solid gold. It falls from his hand into the other rolls, completely dead and inedible. A desperate look comes over MIDAS' face. In a terrified look MIDAS grabs at everything on the table trying to eat something before it turns to the inedible substance. He fails utterly. He takes his goblet and attempts to sip the wine inside. As he puts the wine to his lips a golden water falls into his mouth. Revolted, MIDAS spits the gold back into his cup.


MIDAS storms through the gardens a vision of anger. He runs
purposefully through a line of beautiful but still golden
roses. He walks to the garden, throws his hands into his
fountain of bubbling gold, and screams to the heavens.

(screaming with tears
in his eyes)
Take it back!

He removes his hands from the fountain but all is still a
golden nightmare. His eyes are wide with fear as he gets up
and runs from the palace.


MIDAS runs from the castle to the riverside and down the
hill. He sees his daughter there picking flowers. She runs
towards him with her flowers.

Look father, they're nearly gold!

She hands the flowers to her father and he absentmindedly
takes them into his hands. Instantly, the flowers are gold.
ZOE takes them from his hands and looks in wonder.


He does not look at her at all but stares a thousand miles
ahead. Through the river and through the earth. ZOE reaches
up and touches her troubled father on the arm. In only a
moment her small body hardens and takes on the ubiquitous
yellow hue of pure gold. MIDAS looks down upon her and
realizes the horrible fate which has just befallen her.
Tears well in his eyes as he fall on his knees next to her
small body.

(crying profusely)
What have I done? What have I done?
Oh my dear Zoë...

His hand feels her perfectly formed face and falls prostrate
on the ground.

(whispering desperately
to himself)
If I could do anything. Let me do
anything. Take back this curse.
Shame upon me the day I allowed my
greed to overtake me...

Beyond MIDAS in the green river a white shape rises. It is
the RIVER GODDESS. She stares upon MIDAS' pathetic state
and in the deep churnings on her eternal heart a coldness
thaws and pity for the simple, base mortal comes upon her.
Taking notice of her, in an angry rage MIDAS runs toward the
river drawing his sword from its scabbard. He is stopped in the thrushes as his sword suddenly is deformed and melts away in his hand turning to water and splashing down to join the river.

(angrily and spitefully)
Dare you attack the gods?

(In anger)
Give me back my daughter. Give me
back my life.

Why do you blame the gods for that
which you asked? Did you not want
this gift?

(tears welling in his
River Goddess, I beg of you, take
pity on me. Remove this curse from
me; give me back my daughter.

The RIVER GODDESS frowns on him.

(with a subtle look
of surprise)
Do you not enjoy the gift you were
given? Was this not everything that
your heart desired? Does not your
daughter look so much more the
beautiful now that she is in shades
of gold?

No, no, I loved my daughter!
A heart of gold cannot beat.
I beg of you, I will do anything.

(with a fire in her
If all the gold was taken from you,
if your lofty position was given
away, if all the pain of the world
was laid upon you and every tear
which you may cry be forced from
your eyes, would all that be worth
the joy of having your daughter once

(sobbing on his knees
in the rushes)
Yes, all that and more if only I
could have my daughter back. Please,
my lord...

The RIVER GODDESS quiets and looks sadly upon MIDAS.

If you wish the gift you asked for
gone, then bathe in this river and
take the waters and scatter them
upon anything you wish to return
from gold.
Consider the mercy you have been
shown today and lust no longer for
that which is lifeless.

With that the RIVER GODDESS sinks into the river, never to
be heard of in that age again. But MIDAS ran towards the
center river as soon as he was gone and plunged himself
through the waters wiping himself clean on his curse. As he
did so the beach about the river turned a shade of gold never seen upon those sands. Quickly, he runs from the river
dripping as he runs towards his daughter, desperately, furiously. Flinging all of the water on himself and in his robes upon his daughter he reaches down to hug her. With a sputtering gasp his daughter was his once again, breathing and sputtering in his arms.

Oh, Zoë. Thank the gods you are
mine again.

Father, you are getting me wet!

For a long time MIDAS knelt there hugging his daughter and crying tears of joy. Never again would he make such a foolish choice.

And so it was that wise King Midas
learned all that is treasure does
not shine and that the love of one
small girl may be worth all of the
gold in the world.