Thursday, 30 August 2018

Concerning Midas - John Tzetzes

Midas, the son of Gordias, was a king of the Phrygians,
He worshipped gold beyond the human nature.
According to the myths, he made a bitter wish
So everything he held would be turned into gold.
Every food he would eat, would be made out of gold,
As a consequence he dies hungry because of his golden famine.
Some others, though, have written that he didn’t die.
Instead, he drove his chariot and its anchor held him, as the oracles had said.
He founded the Galatian city of Ankara across the river Halys.
This way the famine and his destiny have been avoided.
This Midas has been said to have his ears like donkey’s.
From what I’ve said, everything must be clear about Midas.

He worshipped gain and money; he was very greedy.
He made his stomach hurt by selling all the food
Just like Vespasian did with the excrement of the horses
Although, he blamed Titus a lot for this; he was his son.
He used to say to him: “Titus, my dearest son,
This is the gold of excrement, try, smell its odour.”
This is how Midas was, as already mentioned before,
According to these myths created in this way.
Later he founded Ankara, a city with lots of food.
His ears were, as I said, like those donkeys have.
This means he was keen on hearing or just with very large ears
Or even that he had around him many spies.
Donkeys, Aristotle said, have very sharp hearing.
There is a Phrygian village named “donkey’s ears”.
It was inhabited by thieves. Midas had conquered it.
Maybe that’s why the myth says Midas had donkey’s ears.

The Ankara mentioned above was situated in Galatia.
It’s been said it was built by Octavian, the Caesar of the Romans.
Octavian killed Deiotarus, the tetrarch of Galatia.
It was not due to the iron anchor of Midas’ chariot
That Ankara was named this way, but because it is situated
Between the Asiatic and the Pontic seas.

John Tzetzes (1110 - 1180) Turkey
Translated by Ana Untila
Source: Classical Texts Library

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