Please stop claiming "But water negates the golden touch!": Greek & Roman myths about King Midas vs Hawthorne's story for kids (essay/rant)
Forgive me the lengthy rant, but I've grown sick and tired of seeing Fortnite fans in online forums repeat the same misinformation over and over: "But in the Greek myths, water removes the Golden Touch!" uttered with utter conviction (usually escalating from "a river" to "any flowing water" to "any water at all!"). Can we please stop with this nonsense? Unless you want to claim that Fortnite's Midas, richest man in the world, leader of Ghost, spy agency mastermind and mad scientist, has never taken a shower or a swim in his life, despite owning a yacht. /sarcasm
Allow me to give a summary of the (often times contradictory) stories about King Midas from Greek and Roman legends and contrast them with the invention of a 19th century American writer:
The story of King Midas accidentally turning his daughter Marigold to gold and then be told to bathe in a river in front of his palace and sprinkle its water on his daughter to wash the curse off, was never part of the original Greek myth about King Midas of Phrygia. It was invented out of thin air by 19th century American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne for his book of educational moralist fables for children, A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys (published 1851)!
I assume Americans are more familiar with that child-friendly fairy tale of redemption which fictionalized the mythical figure of King Midas into a 19th century eyeglasses-wearing "antique king" who drinks coffee out of china cups and eats potatoes off china plates, so they mistakenly think it dates back to antiquity. Hawthorne's short story, clearly written for children, can easily be found online in full length (as it pre-dates American copyright laws).
In Hawthorne's version, King Midas loves gold and already has a treasure room full of it, but isn't satisfied. One day he is visited by some nameless stranger who offers him the gift of the Golden Touch so he can get all the gold he desires. He starts turning his glasses, books, cups and the roses in his rose garden to gold. When his daughter comes to him crying about how the flowers in the garden have all gone yellow and hard like metal, he hugs her, turning her to gold. He prays for a way to save her, and the mysterious stranger pops up against and tell him to go to the river that flows outside his palace. So, no, even in Hawthorne's story it's not simply "any (flowing) water" that negates the curse.
THE GREEK & ROMAN LEGENDS:
There were at least three real historical King Midases of Phrygia (a region in what is now Anatolia in today's Turkey). A King Midas who ruled Phrygia in the late 8th century BC is documented from Greek and Assyrian sources.
For the mythical King Midas of Greek and Roman legend, the Golden Touch turned into a curse because the wish for the gift had been asked in greed. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (in his Politics), King Midas prayed to the gods for this gift, then found everything he touched turned to gold and he died of starvation and thirst and that was it. Nothing mentioned about a river or daughter there.
Herodotus referred to a wild rose garden at the foot of Mount Bermion (in the Hellenistic kingdom of Macedonia, where he places the early Phrygians before their migration to the Balkans) as "the garden of Midas son of Gordias, where roses grow of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing fragrance". That's probably where Hawthorne got the rose garden from.
According to the Greek politician and writer Xenophon (in his Anabasis), King Midas wished to become as wise as the satyr Silenos (the teacher of Dionysos/Bacchus, god of wine and madness), so he set up a trap to catch the satyr by putting wine into a forest spring; Silenos drank of it and fell asleep, and Midas demanded as the price for releasing Silenos that Dionysos should grant him a wish, which the god agreed to.
According to the Roman poet Ovid (in his Metamorphoses, Book XI) and other Roman poets like Hyginus and Claudian, Silenos just got blind drunk (as satyrs are prone to do), fell asleep in Midas' rose garden, and when he was found King Midas treated him royally. After eleven days he brought Silenos back to Dionysos in Lydia, and the grateful Dionysos offered Midas a wish as reward, at which point Midas wished that everything he touch turn to gold... which went as badly as expected. According to Ovid and Hyginus, Midas begged Dionysos to save him from starvation and Dionysos told him to bathe in the river Pactolos... a river which in antiquity was already famous for being rich in gold and electrum, so Ovid basically invented a backstory for that river! Incidentally, the river Pactolos ran through the antique city of Sardis (aka. Sardes, Sardeis) in Lydia, the city where another king famous for his legendary wealth reigned: Croesus. Croesus father, Alyattes of Lydia, claimed King Midas as the mythical forefather for his dynasty.
According to Ovid (in his Metamorphoses, Book XI), after King Midas got rid of the results of his imprudently-worded wish, he lived on only to stumble into more mishaps. He left his palace, now hating the sight of wealth and splendor, and went to live in the wilderness to study music under the poet Orpheus. Unfortunately, he allowed himself to get roped into becoming the judge of a contest of musical skill between two gods of music, the Olympian god Apollo and the satyr Pan. This did not end well, because when Midas granted the victory to Pan, the king was cursed again by an angry Apollo to have the ears of an donkey. (Although according to Hyginus, the minor mountain god and king of Lydia Tmolus was the judge and Midas was the mortal audience.)
Midas was mortified and tried to hide the furry ears under a pointy Phrygian cap, but his barber found out. The barber tried to hide the secret by digging a hole at the river and whispering it into it, but the river reeds whispered it back for all to hear. Some writers claim Midas then killed himself by drinking poison, which seems like a bit of lore poached from the death of a historical King Midas:
Around 700 B.C. the historical Cimmerians (a nomadic Indo-European tribe whose homeland lay in the Ukrainian steppes, in the region of the Caucasus mountains and along the shores of the Black Sea) invaded Urartu, a vassal state of the Assyrian Empire to the south. When Assyrian armies under King Sargon II pushed the Cimmerian invaders back, they rode westwards into Anatolia and conquered Phrygia in 695 B.C. The Phrygian king Midas drank poison rather than face capture and torture at their hands.
According to Flavius Philostratus (in Life of Appolonius of Tyana) King Midas' ears were already pointy because he had a satyr in his bloodline. Make of that what you will.
The whole theme about "a king with donkey or horse's ears, whose barber tries to keep the secret by whispering it into a hole or a well, but the secret is betrayed when plants (usually river reeds, or a tree) that overheard it are fashioned into a musical instrument (a flute, or a harp) that sings out the king's secret" turns up with only slight variations in legends from Central Asia (Mongolia), from Ireland (twice!) and from Brittany. Make of that what you will.
CLOSING THOUGHTS and SPECULATION:
As for Hawthorne's invention of a daughter named Marigold: "Marigold" certainly wasn't a name of a daughter of any King of Phrygia. It's is the English common name both for the European plant Calendula officinalis and for the similar-looking flowers of the genus Tagetes with several species of orange and yellow flowers. Tagetes was originally native to Mexico and South-America, but is now found worldwide in various cultivars. Tagetes erecta, the Aztec marigold or Mexican marigold, was regarded as the flower of the dead in pre-Hispanic Mexico, similar to the lily in Europe, and is still widely used in the Mexican Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) celebrations.
Considering that 1) Epic had Fortnite's Midas name his yacht the Marigold, 2) there's a weird fanged skull wearing a crown of flowers among his extensive tattoos which could be a reference to the sugar skulls and flowers of the Mexican Day of the Dead, 3) the Aztecs brought blood sacrifices to the sun, 4) Oro looks like the skeleton of a Spanish conquistador and 5) Oro's gold chain and tabard form the symbol of a bleeding sun, I had seriously expected Epic would do something more with that. But sadly Epic never bothered to give us any canon explanation as to the origin of Midas's Golden Touch superpowers. Or his connection to Oro that they so massively hinted at to hype the Oro skin. They didn't even give us a skin style for Midas of his younger self, the statue of himself on his Yacht that depicted him with two eyes and wearing glasses. :(
In the end, the name Marigold wasn't a Chekov's Gun plot device, it wasn't even a MacGuffin, it turned out to be merely a wink and nod to the Hawthorne story? I don't know.
I'm honestly angry about all the wasted storytelling opportunities, now that the Fortnite creative team has effectively thrown Midas to the sharks in the lamest way possible after they used him as a plot device to get their map changes. (How to ruin a character in just 10 seconds. Congrats.)
So many questions about Midas left unanswered:
Why did Midas turn Lynx, his own agent, into a statue when she trespassed on his secret lair, and how can her helmet also be on his trophy wall?
What was the deal with Midas hunting unnatural/supernatural (evil) creatures, like Chaos Agent, Big Chuggus, Black Knight, Scratch, Astro Assassin, A.I.M., Beastmode Rhino, Tomatohead and Beef Boss (remember the creepy cult of Tomato Temple?) and the Molten(?) Battle Hound. And why did he take out Alpine Ace and Burnout? Anything we should know about them? I would far more have expected Omega's helmet to be on that wall.
Or the core question: Just how old exactly is Midas, a guy who dresses like a 1920s librarian and owns a phonograph/gramophone? I get the feeling he is far older than he looks.
I just hope if Epic ever does anything more with Midas, if they give him proper voicelines that are not affected by the Loop's "muting", they get a British voice actor or at least a voice actor who can do a convicing Queen's English accent (like Ryan Stewart from NewScapeProductions who does a perfect Midas voice). Come on, Epic, Midas himself already checks all the boxes for "James Bond villain" (Goldfinger, Blofeld, and Scaramanga the Man with the Golden Gun, not to mention the orbital laser Goldeneye) and the Spy Games of Ch2S2 had so many references to James Bond, the British Spy-Fi TV series 'The Avengers', and Kingsman: The Secret Service, making Midas American would be sacrilegious. Just ask Matthew Mercer to do a British accent, please.
submitted by Knusperfrosch
Why I think Native Instruments Maschine + is a big deal.
Native Instruments announced a new standalone version of Maschine called Maschine + recently, as we all know. It’s perfectly positioned to compete with the current climate of hardware sequencers and groove boxes offerings with a very familiar work flow at a price point towards the top of the market.
That’s not what gets me excited about it though, I’m more interested in the fact that it also functions as a digital synthesizer that now brings some of the most used soft synths of the past decade into the hardware realm. I think it could be argued that Maschine + now stands as one of the most advanced and multifunctioned synths you can buy right now in a world of Hydrasynths, Iridiums, Argons, the digital Roland synths, and so on at a price tag of $1400.
For performing keyboardists and electronic musicians this is a game changer. Though you can’t completely sound design patches stand alone, you can now take your NI presets to the stage without the aide of a computer. As someone who has performed live with Ableton for soft synths and a few backing tracks, this is a huge game changer. With Maschine + I could leave the computer at home and just have this on the stage with the rest of my hardware synths.
Out of the box you get a wavetable synth in Massive, a mono virtual analog in Monark, an FM synth in FM8 that can even load DX7 patches, and the Reactor synths available. You also get a rompler with Kontakt and the factory library. I’m not sure how many more Kontakt libraries will be available or if they run on the full version of Kontakt with all of its features. I also don’t know what other products from the Komplete line will eventually make it to this machine. These are also multi timbral and can be addressed individually on different midi channels. You could take a few midi keyboards and just this unit and have a multi synth stage setup, though with only one stereo output you would have to mix their levels internally. To get this kind of a package in a stage synth you are looking in the Korg Kronos, Roland Phantom, Yamaha Motif territory and those workstations are at a much higher price point than the Maschine +. From watching some of the demos online, it really seems like the processor is capable of handling a lot of synthesizers running at the same time. This unit comes with a quad core Intel Atom x86 processor that without having to run a desktop operating system really has a lot of performance headroom.
As far as downsides the singe stereo output seems like a real drawback as you can’t send separate stereo instruments to front of house and I’m not sure how you would get a click track to a drummer if it was needed. I wonder if adding a USB audio interface will be an option in the future. More MIDI IO would have been nice too. I think a touch screen would have really improved the work flow for editing midi as well but I understand that to keep the price down it makes sense to use the same screens, buttons, and form factor from the MK3.
Will I be buying it? Probably not anytime soon. I own Komplete 12 Ultimate Collectors edition and a Komplete Kontrol S61 MKII. I have the Maschine software but not the hardware controller and I’ve never used one. I’ve owned an Analog 4, Novation Circuit, and a Circuit Mono station and I could not get into the groove box workflow. I do own a Push 2 and absolutely love it though. I’m a lot more interested in learning Maschine now and I might try and grab a used MK3 just to see if it’s something I could get into and if Maschine + would be something I would want in the future, especially since I own so many NI products already that would load up to the Maschine + day one for me. In the covid world we are in right now I won’t be jamming with anyone or playing any shows any time soon so I wouldn’t get any really use out of it as a live synth right now, but the idea of not having to haul my computer and Apollo interface to every jam session sounds like a real reason to consider the Maschine + and I think a lot of musicians would prefer to leave a laptop out of their live setup.
So I realize this unit is in preproduction and there is a lot I don’t know about it. I also haven’t used a lot of the synths I’ve talked about here so if there is anything I got wrong or completely don’t understand please fill me in. I’m interested to know what you all think about this as well.
Thanks for reading.
submitted by penguinrider