Midas was a king of Phrygia, in ancient Greece, noted for his greed and avarice, which became his undoing, in the following manner. Silenus, faster father and tutor to the god Dionysos, had become drunk and wandered the fields of Phrygia until found by peasants, who conducted him to their king. Recognizing him immediately, Midas feasted and honored him for eleven days, then returned him to the worried Dionysos, who promptly granted Midas his choice of reward.
Midas asked that whatever he touched be turned to gold, to which Dionysos consented, and at first, Midas seemed to have struck a good bargain. Upon his return to the palace, he touched normal, everyday objects, and all turned to gold – an acorn, a stone, the roses in his garden. Delighted, Midas ordered a great feast, but whenever he put his hand to any of the delectable viands or delicious drinks, they too turned to gold, and Midas was faced with the prospect of starvation. When his daughter came to comfort him, Midas was horrified when she became a golden statue in his embrace, and pled to Dionysos for a release from this gift. The god told him to wash himself in a nearby river, and this would remove the power, which Midas now deemed a curse.
Midas now eschewed all worldly goods, fleeing to the wild to become a follower of Pan, but this was not the end of his troubles. The goat-legged god, a master of the flute, had boasted that his melodies were superior even to those of Apollo, patron god of music, and challenged him to a contest. Although Pan’s flute-playing was beautiful, when Apollo struck up his lyre, all assembled agreed that he had the mastery. All except Midas, that is, who stuck up for his satyr lord. Incensed, Apollo exclaimed that Midas must have the ears of an ass, and so it was – the former Phrygian king grew long ears like a donkey, and forever after avoided the company of men. After his death, Zeus made him a judge of the dead in Hades.
Astrologically, Midas represents greed, avarice, and the foolish pursuit of wealth; additionally, it can indicate an inability to think through the consequences of an action or decision, and the repentance which comes from making imprudent choices.