Middle Eastern Mythologies

The Phrygians

Who were the Phrygians?

The Phrygians were an Indo-European people who migrated to Anatolia (Asia Minor, in present-day Turkey) in the eighth century B.C.E. Later they would be conquered by the Persians, by Alexander the Great, and still later by the Romans. The Phrygian capital was Gordium, so named in honor of King Gordias, who was said to have arrived in the city in an ox-cart. Gordias had a famous son, Midas. The story says that in return for having done a good deed for the Greek god Dionysos (Dionysus), Midas—then himself king of Phrygia—was promised anything he wanted. Foolishly, he asked that everything he touched be turned to gold. When even his food became gold, he realized his mistake. As a much younger man, Midas had honored his father Gordias by tying a famous knot to attach his father’s ox-cart to a post in the center of Gordium. No one could untie this “Gordian Knot,” a term which to this day symbolizes an insoluble problem. When Alexander conquered Phrygia, he solved the problem by slicing the knot with his sword.


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