The Golden Touch
Although Dionysus could be cruel to those who crossed him, he was also a much-loved god who often rewarded his followers. Dionysus's favorite gift to bestow was wine. From time to time, however, he allowed the recipient to choose the gift. The story of King Midas is one example.
Dionysus's companion and tutor, Silenus, was captured by the people of Lydia and taken to King Midas of Phrygia. Midas recognized Silenus as a companion of Dionysus and welcomed him into his household. The king entertained Silenus for ten days and ten nights, going above and beyond the rules of hospitality. Then, he sent Silenus back to Dionysus, accompanied by an escort.
Silenus was usually depicted as a fat old man who, like many of Dionysus's followers, was often drunk. When intoxicated, Silenus had the gift of prophecy. His philosophy was pessimistic, however; he once proclaimed that the best thing for a man was not to be born at all, or if he couldn't avoid birth, to die as soon as possible.
To thank the king for his hospitality to Silenus, Dionysus offered Midas whatever gift he desired. Midas requested that anything he touch turn to gold. Dionysus reluctantly granted the king's wish.
At first, Midas was pleased with his newfound ability. He reveled in his ability to turn ordinary objects like stones and twigs into solid gold. When he sat down to eat, however, Midas realized the problem with his wish. When he tried to eat, his food and drink turned to gold. In despair, Midas realized that his gift was going to kill him.
He called on Dionysus to take back this gift, and the god advised Midas to bathe in the river Pactolus. Midas did as he was told. When he touched the river, his power to turn objects into gold flowed into the water, and the sands of the river became golden. The river became known as a rich source of gold.