An ancient king of Phrygia, and father of Midas, is celebrated in history, through the story of the Gordian knot.

According to tradition, he was originally a poor peasant, but was destined to occupy a kingly throne, as was indicated by a prodigy which happened to him. One day, while he was plowing, an eagle came down and settled on his yoke of oxen, and remained there till the evening. Gordius was surprised at the phenomenon, and went to Telmissus to consult the soothsayers of that place, who were very celebrated for their art. Close by the gates of the town he met a Telnissian girl, who herself possessed prophetic powers. He told her what he had come for, and she advised him to offer up sacrifices to Zeus Basileus at Telmissus. She herself accompanied him into the town, and gave him the necessary instructions respecting the sacrifices. Gordius, in return, took her for his wife, and became by her the father of Midas.

When Midas had grown up to manhood, internal disturbances broke out in Phrygia, and an oracle informed the inhabitants that a car would bring them a king, who should at the same time put an end to the disturbances. When the people were deliberating on these points, Gordius, with his wife and son, suddenly appeared riding in his car in the assembly of the people, who at once recognized the person described by the oracle. According to Arrian,1 the Phrygians made Midas their king, while, according to Justin,2 who also gives the oracle somewhat differently, and to others, Gordius himself was made king, and succeeded by Midas.

The new king dedicated his car and the yoke to which the oxen had been fastened, to Zeus Basileus, in the acropolis of Gordium, and an oracle declared that, whosoever should untie the knot of the yoke, should reign over all Asia. It is a well-known story, that Alexander, on his arrival at Gordium, cut the knot with his sword, and applied the oracle to himself.



  1. Campaigns of Alexander, ii, 3.
  2. xii, 7.


  • Aelian. Varia Historia iv, 17.
  • Curtius, iii, 1.15.
  • Plutarch. Alexander, 18.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
  • Strabo. Geography xii, p. 568.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.