Self-Portrait as Midas
This sculpture of a man with great big ears sure is funny looking. But nobody was laughing when an angry Greek god punished King Midas by giving him the ears of a donkey!

According to the legend, one day a satyr (a mythical creature who was half-man, half-goat) named Marsyas challenged the powerful god of music, Apollo, to a musical contest. Apollo accepted the challenge, and the contestants asked the mountain god Tmolus and King Midas to be the judges. First Marsyas played a simple tune on his pipes. Then Apollo played his lyre (or harp) beautifully.

When the music ended, Tmolus picked Apollo as the winner because he thought the sound of his lyre was the most heavenly thing he had ever heard. King Midas chose the satyr. Apollo became angry and turned Midas's ears into those of a donkey as a sign of foolishness.

Moral of the story: Never choose a satyr over a powerful god.

Jean-Joseph Carriès sculpted this plaster head with King Midas in mind. Its golden luster (from shellac) reminds us of another legend about King Midas. He turned everything to gold with a touch of his finger—but that's a different story.

More Kooky Art Scoops!

Actors in Ancient Greece and Rome A Saint in Everyday Clothing An Exotic Elephant Caricature at Carnevale
A Monstrous Face Midas and Apollo