Midas and the Gordian Knot

Posted: July 16, 2015 in Articles
Tags: , ,

DSCF2747Around 740 BC, there were tribes in central Asia Minor (modern Turkey) called the Phrygians, but they had never really been a nation.

At roughly the same time, an Assyrian king named Tilgath-Pileser III was on the throne somewhat illegitimately, but that’s fine. In fact, his real name was Pul, but he took the throne from the governor of Caleh and changed his name to Tilgath-Pileser III, because the two other Tilgath-Pilesers before him had made great Assyrian kings. Anyway, he did a lot of campaigning and expanded the Assyrian empire a lot.

One place he attacked was where the Phrygians lived. At that point tribes of Phrygians that lived west of the others banded together and formed the first Phrygian empire. Tilgath-Pileser III accidentally created the Phrygian kingdom by taking over the eastern part of the Phrygians’ land, motivating the western Phrygian tribes to form the Phrygian kingdom. Now the story kind of enters into myth, with King Midas.

When the Phrygian kingdom first started, they had no leader, so they asked an oracle who should rule over them. The oracle said that the next person to ride in on a wagon should be the next king.

Along came Midas, a farmer, in a wagon. The story/myth continues four hundred years later, with Alexander the Great. He rode into Phrygia and saw the wagon with its yoke tied to the wagon’s pole with a very large and complicated knot, the Gordian knot. I believe it is called this because in some versions Midas is called Gordias and his son is called Midas.

I believe this part of the story is pretty common: whoever undid the knot would be the next Phrygian king. Alexander the Great cut the knot.

The point is, I’ve never heard the Midas part of the legend, so I thought I’d share it since I thought it was pretty interesting. Also, if you’re wondering why I’m writing about this at all, it’s because I have this puzzle from Thinkfun called the Gordian’s Knot (in the picture above), and then I read about this in my history book, so I thought I’d write about it ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. atkokosplace says:

    Great reading. Thank you for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Cynthia says:

    I never heard the Midas part of the legend either. Good luck with that puzzle:)

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