Did you know that King Midas, famously the most fabulously wealthy Man of his Day,

was also notorious for having the ears of an Ass?

Of course you know. Everyone knows that.

The whole world in fact probably knows the story of how

King Midas came to be gifted with the ears

of a common Ass (Equus asinus.)

But have you ever thought about how it is you came to know the story of Ass-eared Midas?

The Story itself is quite straight forward.

Midas, of course, wasn’t born with Asses’ Ears, and neither was he the monstrous offspring of some unnatural coupling. No, his parents, though King and Queen, were otherwise unexceptional people, and he himself was born with a normal, and not unsightly, set of very human ears.

In fact, as young Prince Midas grew up, his ears earned him  the reputation of being somewhat of a Musical Connoisseur. An enthusiastic amateur musician himself,

his hearing was said to have “perfect pitch“, he would sometimes invite famous Musicians over to “jam” at the Palace, to the dismay of Royal Security. He attended every Concert and Opera, every Choir performance and Symphony

every Barn-dance and Hoot-nanny. In short every musical event.

Indeed, so great was the fame of this gifted amateur,

that the Gods themselves once came to seek his opinion

and settle a dispute between the Immortals…

For Pan and Apollo had one day fallen to drunkenly arguing over who was the better Musician; Goat-legged Pan with his haunting Pipes, or golden-haired Apollo with his famous Lyre.

Gods being Gods, neither would yield and the argument grew so vexed that it threatened to start landslides and earthquakes rocking Mt Olympus itself! So Zeus, ever eager for a quiet life in which to pursue inappropriate office relationships in the guise of Barnyard animals, told the squabbling Deities to back off. There would be a divine Competition between the two, He decreed, and Zeus made them both promise to accept the Judge’s ruling.

But who was to judge? At first they asked the Muses, but they wisely demurred, as did the Graces and so the Gods ultimately settled on the mortal but gifted Midas.

Midas was King by this stage and you would have thought that would be enough for him. But no, his Vanity urged him on, Hubris was at the wheel, and so he unwisely accepted the Gods’ invitation to act as Judge in this Heavenly Talent Competition. Perhaps if he’d recalled the strange fate of the renowned Poet/Prophet Tiresias (to be related in a Sunday Sermon coming to you soon!) when s/he got involved in the Disputes of Gods, Midas might have re-considered. But as I said, Hubris was at the wheel, and we all know about his driving skills.

So they gathered, the Gods and Midas, in some Sylvan nook, and Apollo began to play his Lyre and sing;

lovely melting melodies, swelling tones and echoes swirled & reverberated through-out the woodlands. The wild creatures came out of the wood and sat at the Apollo’s feet, entranced and entrapped. The trees themselves wept.

The wild birds came down out of the skies and sat upon the singing God’s shoulders, and they did not defecate, as birds are wont to do, so captivated were they by the Immortal’s Music.

But then Pan impatiently stamped his hoof, 1-2-3-4! and started playing some way-out tune, pulsating and rhythmic and wild, like someone was playing Inna-Gadda-da-Vida and Toccata & Fugue all together at once on some mighty, old-world Cathedral Organ with massed rows of pipes towering like tree-trunks to the vaulted roof.

Then the birds shat on Apollo’s shoulders and took off into the air, careering in dizzying loops above the Great Goat-legged Pan as he danced and played and strutted and stamped. Indeed, everyone, Gods, beasts, Midas himself, all felt compelled to dance when Great Wild Pan was playing.

Finally he stopped, and Midas, who always loved a good knees-up and was swept away by the excitement of it all, recklessly declared Pan to be the greatest musician amongst the Gods!

Well the crowd of Gods went Mad with Mirth

and Pan led the whooping, mocking Gods off on a riotous, drunken Victory Parade. Apollo however, never a good Loser, stayed behind to shirt-front Midas, grabbing him by the neck of his Tunic, twisting it and lifting the gasping Royalty off the ground to ensure his total attention while he was being cursed.

“Ass! You have the musical taste of a Donkey! And an Ass like you should be properly equipped to listen to the goat “music” you love so much!” bellowed the Angry God, and saying thus he bestowed on Midas a long, luxurious pair of black and hairy Asses’ Ears!

When Midas saw his reflection in a stream he was convulsed with embarrassment. The Royal Dignity could not cope with such a thing! How could he be King if everyone was laughing at Him? He’d be deposed! Or forced to abdicate. There was nothing else to do but to try and hide his predicament.

So from that day forth Midas would only appear in public with an elegant, bejeweled turban wrapped around his head to hide the bestial ears that brought him so much embarrassment.

Not even his wives and children knew his secret. He would wear his jewel-encrusted turban even in the royal chambers. At first he only removed the turban when alone in his private quarters, and no-one knew his secret. But his hair and beard kept growing, and as it was beneath the dignity of a King to do his own grooming, he was forced to take his barber into his confidence. Still, the fellow was but a lowly servant, he could be forced into silence.

The Barber was shocked when Midas revealed his enormous Asses’ Ears, and paralysed with Fear when Midas explained all the terrible things that would happen to the Barber and his Family if he should ever be so unwise as to hint..Just HINT, mind you..that their All Powerful, Wealthy and Respected King.. to ANYONE, I said..had the ludicrously elongated Ears of an Ass.

So the barber would cut the King’s hair and pretend not to notice the two hairy Asses’ Ears, and he never said a word about it to a Living Soul.

This went on for many years, but the pressure of having to keep this enormous Secret to himself was driving the Barber insane. So one dark night, making sure he wasn’t followed, he went out into the woods and dug a hole next to a lake. Looking around cautiously he ascertained there was not a creature stirring as far as he could see or hear.

“My Ears are Burning!”

So the barber knelt down next to the little hole that he had dug by the side of the lake,

and he whispered into it,

just once,

ever so quietly,

“King Midas has Asses’ Ears!”

Then he filled in the hole with sand again,

smoothed it over and made it look as though

a hole had never been there.

Then he went home and slept soundly for the first time in years, now that the terrible burden of carrying this Secret had been relieved.



..there were seeds in the hole where the Barber had whispered, who knew the secret now and they grew into reeds waving in the breeze by the lake, and the reeds told the breeze and She told her four  Sisters and they spread the ludicrous gossip to the far corners of the Earth..”King Midas has Asses Ears!

Soon all the birds and beasts were whispering and chittering about it and finally even the stupid humans, who are always slow to pick things up, came to hear about it too.

Thereafter Midas only ever appeared in Public once,

and when it became clear  from the sniggering and smirks that everyone knew about his embarrassing Ears, he went and locked himself in a Tower for the rest of his Life, issuing his Royal commands and orders through a slot in the door.

ENVOI; People usually expect you to tack a moral onto the Tale at this stage, but I think that really it speaks for itself.

So I’ll just say this;


It’s all a matter of taste really.




The Reverend Hellfire ..

His Achilles Heel is his Feet of Clay.



~ by reverendhellfire on February 18, 2018.

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