R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, R.6, R.7, W.3, SL.1, SL.2, L.4, L.6

The Golden Curse

Will a greedy king’s dream become a nightmare?

A play based on the Greek Myth of King Midas

Art by Carolyn Ridsdale


*Starred characters have larger speaking parts.

  • *Narrators 1, 2, & 3  (N1, N2, N3) 
  • *King Midas, a greedy king 
  • *Marigold, Midas’s daughter 
  • *Dionysus [dye-uh-NYE-sus], a god
  • Servant
The Lords and Ladies of Gordium
  • Lady Caraway 
  • Lord Elderberry 
  • Lady Laurel 
  • Lord Sage


King Midas’s Treasure Room

N1: Long, long ago in the city of Gordium, in the country that’s now called Turkey . . .

N2: . . . there was a king named Midas. 

N3: He was the richest man in all the land.

N1: But that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to be even richer.

N2: And that’s what got him into trouble.

N3: Every day, King Midas sat in his treasure room counting his gold coins.

Midas: One billion four hundred million and one . . . 

N1: He loved gold more than anything.

Midas: One billion four hundred million and two . . . 

N2: More than ice cream?

N3: Yes. Even more than his own daughter, Marigold.

N1: Here she comes now.

Marigold: Father, come see my garden. The roses are blooming.

Midas: One billion four hundred—oh, Marigold! You made me lose my count!

Marigold: That’s all you care about. You hardly ever leave this room.

Midas: Everything I love is here.

Marigold: Then I’ll leave you to your treasure.

N2: Marigold runs back to her garden, hiding her tears.

N3: And King Midas goes back to his gold.

Midas: Oh, my precious golden treasure. You shine brighter than the sun!

N1: The god Dionysus is watching Midas from Mount Olympus. He decides to pay the king a visit.

Dionysus: This greedy king must be taught a lesson!


The Treasure Room 

N2: Later that afternoon, Midas is still counting his treasure. Dionysus appears.

Midas: Who are you?

Dionysus: Someone who could offer you enough gold to be happy.

Midas: No one can ever have enough!

Dionysus: What if you could share your gold with everyone in the land and still be very rich?

Midas: Share? But then I wouldn’t be as rich.

Dionysus: Will nothing satisfy you? 

Midas: The only way I’ll be happy is if everything I touch turns to gold.

N3: Dionysus has a plan to teach Midas a lesson.

Dionysus: It is a wish I will grant you—and one you truly deserve.

N1: Dionysus places his hand on the king’s head and chants.

Dionysus: King Midas, whose heart is cold, I hereby grant you all the gold.

N2: Dionysus snaps his fingers and disappears.

N3: King Midas climbs over piles of gold as he leaves his treasure room.

N1: He touches the door. 

Midas: Gold! It turned to gold!

N2: He touches the wall.

Midas: More gold!

N3: Midas runs through the halls of the castle, touching everything. It all turns to gold.

Midas: I will be the richest man who ever lived!

Illustrations by Carolyn Ridsdale

The Midas Touch 
Today saying someone has “the Midas touch” means that they’re good at making money. It’s just one of many idioms, or figures of speech, that come from Greek mythology. Learn more in our “Myth Talk” video!


The Garden 

N1: King Midas races to the garden to find his daughter.

Midas: Marigold!

Marigold: Father, look at my lovely roses. They’re so red and fragrant! 

Midas: I have a surprise for you. If you think your flowers are lovely now, just wait.

Marigold: What could possibly make them more beautiful?

N2: Midas touches a rosebush. It turns to gold.

Midas: See how beautiful your roses are?

Marigold: Father, how could you? They’re horrible! They’ve lost their color. Their lovely scent is gone.

Midas: But now they’re worth a fortune!

Marigold: My roses are ruined. Please don’t touch another flower.

N3: Midas ignores his daughter’s wishes. He runs around the garden, touching all the flowers and trees.

N1: His servant arrives and sees that the garden is all gold.

Servant: Your Majesty, can this be real?

Midas: This is only the start! I will hold a banquet in honor of my new power.

Servant: Shall we go get all the lords and ladies of Gordium?

Midas: Yes, at once!


The Banquet Room 

N2: That night, the lords and ladies of Gordium gather at the castle of King Midas.

N3: They are dressed in their finest gowns and jewels.

Servant: My lady, would you care for some pigeon pie or roasted peacock?

Lady Caraway: Roasted peacock, please.

Servant: Yes, of course!

Lord Elderberry: And I would like some of that pudding with rose water. Did the petals come from your roses, Marigold?

Marigold: Yes, Lord Elderberry. But I fear it may be the last of them.

Lord Elderberry: Why?

Marigold: Only my father can answer that.

Midas: Yes, I have something to show you. Lady Caraway, hand me your dish.

N1: The moment the king touches the dish, it turns to gold.

Lady Caraway: Wow! Is this solid gold?

Midas: It sure is.

Lady Laurel: Your Majesty, touch my plate!

Lord Elderberry: Mine too! 

N2: King Midas transforms all the dishes into gold right before their eyes.

Lord Sage: A toast! A toast to our host!

N3: The servant fills their glasses with the finest wine.

Lady Caraway: Soon Gordium will be the richest country in the world!

Lord Elderberry: Thanks to your golden touch.

Lady Caraway: The Midas touch!

Midas: It’s quite astounding, isn’t it?

N1: King Midas puts the wine to his lips.

N2: The liquid hardens into solid gold.

N3: His face turns pale. His hand shakes as he reaches for bread.

N1: As his finger touches the loaf, it becomes a golden brick.

N2: Marigold sees the worried look on her father’s face.

Marigold: What’s wrong?

N3: She rushes to his arms. The moment she touches him, she turns to solid gold.

Midas: Noooooooo!

Lord Sage: Marigold has become a golden statue!

Lady Caraway: We must leave before King Midas reaches for one of us.

N1: King Midas falls beside the statue of his daughter.

Midas: Dionysus, how wrong I was. This blessing is a curse!

Illustrations by Carolyn Ridsdale

After Marigold turns to gold, King Midas begs Dionysus to reverse the curse. 


From the Palace to the River

N2: Hours later, Midas still kneels beside his daughter.

Midas: Dionysus, help me. Please!

N3: Finally, Dionysus appears before them.

Dionysus: What will happen if I do?

Midas: I will share my treasure with the poor. My daughter is more important to me than gold.

Dionysus: I see you’ve learned your lesson. Come with me to the river. Bathing in it will reverse the spell.

N1: As Midas steps into the river, tiny pieces of gold wash off him.

N2: He races back to the castle.

N3: In the garden, the roses are once again red and fragrant.

N1: Marigold rushes out to meet him.

Midas: Marigold!

Marigold: Father!

N2: They hug.

Midas: You are so precious to me.

Marigold: More than gold?

Midas: More than anything.

N3: After that, King Midas was a changed man.

N1: He even shared his gold with his kingdom.

Midas: That’s right. I never want to touch it again!




Illustrations by Carolyn Ridsdale

A Lesson Learned
In the end, King Midas finally realizes that some things are more important than gold.

You've just read "The Golden Curse.” Now it’s time to try this activity. 

What to do: Imagine that you are the god Dionysus, shortly after the end of the play. You’re writing in your journal. Make inferences to complete each sentence below. For clues, go back and look at the play.

Tip: An inference is something that is not stated but can be figured out from clues in the text.

I decided to teach King Midas a lesson after I saw him in his treasure room, ignoring his daughter and making her feel

Hint: Look in Scene 1 for clues.

When he turned his door and wall to gold, Midas felt 

Hint: Look in Scene 2 for clues..

But after his food turned to gold, he began to realize that  

Hint: Look in Scene 4 for clues.

King Midas used to believe that no one could ever have enough gold. But after seeing his daughter turned to gold, he would probably say that 

Hint: Look in Scenes 4 and 5 for clues.

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