Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It struck me today what a curious phrase "the Midas' touch" is. It means a natural (or preternatural) "ability to turn any business venture one is associated with into an extremely profitable one." (dictionary.com) It is interesting that the term is invariably meant to be positive; that is, to possess the Midas touch is seen as a valued gift or stroke of good fortune.

This usage forgets that in the original tale of King Midas, Midas ends up cursing his power and beseeching the gods for delivery. Initially ecstatic that his wealth can now be limitless, he finds he cannot eat or drink, for everything he touches -- even food and water -- is turned to gold. (In a 19th century retelling, his horror is deepened with the transformation of his daughter to solid metal.) Sick with hunger and thirst, he begs the god Bacchus to take back his "gift."

The tale closes with Midas hating wealth, abandoning his kingship to live in the wild woods. Although the moral heart of the story is a lesson against foolhardiness (and maybe a touch of hubris, for good measure), that Midas is now a byword for financial success is, I think, a little ironic. 

posted at 2:57:41 pm

Halcyon
November 16, 2009   05:17 PM PST
 
Maybe it's usage is intentionally ironic, highlighting the inevitable dissolution of the spirit that will occur following exposure to seemingly limitless wealth

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Glo'ri'a'na, noun:
1. An alternative form of "Gloria."
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.


   



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