Apollo vs. Pan

Apollo vs Pan – King Midas’ ears

After the incident of the golden touch, King Midas hated everything that was gold, and decided to live like a pauper. He dressed in rags and spent as much time as he could outside in nature. He started to follow Pan, the god of nature. Pan looked like a cross between a person and a goat, and had goat feet.

One day, as he was ambling in the woods, King Midas overheard an argument between Pan and Apollo, the god of music. Now, Apollo was known for playing music so beautiful that it could heal sick people when they heard it. Apollo was also known for his cruelty whenever his musical ability was challenged. Pan was saying, “There is no question, I can play better music on my flute than you can play with your harp.”

King Midas foolishly ran into the clearing where Apollo and Pan were arguing so that he could listen better. When Apollo saw him, he said, “Let’s have a contest, and let the good King Midas be the judge of whose music is better.”

First, Pan began by playing his flute. The tune he played was so happy and inviting that the king couldn’t help but start tapping his toe. Soon, he was dancing wildly to the music. Even though King Midas was out of breath and dizzy, he couldn’t stop dancing to the merry tune of Pan. Finally, Pan had mercy on him and stopped playing.

Now it was Apollo’s turn to play his harp. At the sound of the first heavenly note, the birds stopped chirping to listen. At the second note, the wind stopped blowing and every animal stopped moving.  The only sound apart from the music was the king’s breathing. At the end of five minutes, the whole forest seemed to sigh. King Midas immediately jumped up and exclaimed, “There is no question! Pan’s music is the best!”

Apollo filled with rage, “You dirty little goat-god!” Turning to King Midas, he said, “Since you are deaf to the sound of real music, you have no need of those ears. From now on, you will have donkey ears.”

King Midas heard a buzzing noise, and when he reached up to his head, he felt donkey ears. For the rest of his life, he tried to hide in the woods, and even had a special hat made to cover his ears.