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Archive for April, 2012


Once upon a time, in Ancient Phrygia there was a king. His name was Midas and even today few people have not heard of him. Now Midas’s joy in life rested on the amassing of wealth – in particular, the collection of gold. And this was – almost – his un-doing.

One day, when he was pruning the beautiful roses in his world-renowned garden, he was thinking about his money – and how to make more. Brooding over this, he was totally unaware of the sixty lovely blooms that each rose bush offered but, all at once, he caught sight of an old man asleep under a tree. The old man’s name was Silenus and he had come from the court of the god of wine and ritual madness, Dionysus.

‘Could there be a profit in this?’ Midas wondered and instantly thought of a cunning plan.

For the next ten days, he treated Silenus like a king. Then he took him back to Dionysus, knowing how grateful Dionysus would be for the care lavished on his old servant.

‘Midas, I will grant you any wish!’ said the god – who had his own cunning plan.

‘Lord, may anything I touch be turned to gold?’ came Midas’s immediate reply.

‘Such greed could be dangerous,’ warned Dionysus, but, true to his word, he granted the wish.

With delight, Midas touched a tree and it turned to gold. With growing excitement, he touched the walls of his palace and they turned to gold. But then, he touched his horse, then his servant, then his food and finally his much-loved daughter. And all turned to cold, hard, gold.

Midas began to starve. His cold bed was hard and he could not sleep. But most of all, he missed his daughter. He missed her love and he missed her chatter and he missed the way she put her arms around him and hugged him. At last – in extreme suffering and running mad with loneliness – Midas went back to Dionysus.

‘Please, lord, un-grant my wish!’ he pleaded.

Dionysus laughed but decided to take pity on the wretch before him.

‘Go and bathe in the river Pactolus,’ he advised.

King Midas went to the river. But he had now learned caution. ‘What if – when I get into the water, it turns to gold. – it kills me?’ he thought

So, he devised another cunning plan.

First of all, he filled a small jug and washed one small part of himself that he could do without – the tiniest patch on the very tip of his beard. At once, the gold washed away into the River Pactolus – which even to this day is renowned for its golden sands.

But, when King Midas saw this, he was so relieved. And then he carried jug after jug of river water back to his palace. He washed his daughter, his servants, his horse and the whole palace. He did not stop work until everything and everyone was back to normal. And everyone could live happily ever after.

The god, Dionysus, smiled.

Making a story relevant for a group of potential leaders

Here are some questions for discussion in pairs/triads and whole groups (in the same or from different organisations)

Empowerment of the individual

  1. What is the moral of the story?
  2. Can you relate the moral of the story to your own life?
  3. What is your ‘gold’? Can you see the danger and can you see the attraction of it?
  4. Can you think of an incident in your own life illustrating the moral of the Midas Story?
  5. Would you like to change the ending of the Midas story or your own story? Re-write.

The Leadership Skill of Empathy building  

  1. Can you imagine situations from another person’s point of view? An example of this is a poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy entitled Mrs Midas
  2. Whose viewpoint is most important in the story of Midas?
  3. Could you tell the story from another character’s point of view?
  4. Rewrite either ‘Midas’ or your own story from someone else’s point of view.
  5. How do you feel when you think about someone else’s point of view?
  6. How could this skill of imagining how others think and feel be useful for you in your work?

 

 Lizzie Gates, Lonely Furrow Company, 2012

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