- Jan 20, 2010
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f, love this. I have many tomes on myths. These are my current reads.Funny you posted a pic of Pan. Let me tell you a little story.
Did you know that the gods Pan and Apollo had a little bit of a musical competition?
These gods were the first rock stars. The audience was comprised of mortals....fans of both of them. It was deemed that whoever got the loudest applause wins and would be declared the best musician.
Pan went first and played his syrinx (pan flute). Mellow tones filled the air as he began to play until he hit a frenzied climax. Everyone applauded.
Then it was Apollo's turn. He plucked the strings of his lyre....ahhhh...these were tones that were the direct yet ancient lineage of Segovia, Page and Hendrix, Blackmore, Van Halen and Lil' Wayne....Ok....strike Lil' Wayne! The tone was all in his fingers....just like Knopfler.
When he was finished there was an uproarious applause. Apollo is the best! Apollo is the winner!
Except there was one lone voice...."ahem...excuse me, but I though Pan was better."
Apollo's eyebrows knitted together "What!? Who said that?!!!"
"My name is Midas if you please sir"
This was King Midas...the guy who's touch turned everything to gold. But after he was finally able to get rid of that curse (and it was a hell of a curse) he became a kind of hippy, following Pan around the woodlands and smoking pot and drinking wine...
So Midas says "I think Pan's tones were earthier and more interesting and with a little more mystique in the way he used the Phrygian and Mixolydian modes.
Your lyre performance was a little more.....bland....with all due respect sir"
"BLAND?!" sneered Apollo "if that's what you think then you must have the ears of an ass"
Now, when a god says something like that, he wasn't commenting on Midas' taste or judgement of music. When a god says "you MUST have the ears of an ass" it was a command!
Suddenly, Midas felt something hairy and twitching rise from the sides of his head, and everyone started laughing. Midas had ass's ears!
He tore off his shirt and wrapped it around his head like a kind of turban, then run away in humiliation.
When he got back to his palace he was determined to never let his ass's ears be seen by anyone, so he never removed that turban.
Except.....he had to get his hair cut once a month. So he went to the royal barber and told him "I will now remove this turban for my monthly haircut. You must never reveal to anyone what you are about to see. If you do, I will know it was you and I will kill your whole family before your very eyes and then I'll kill you. But if you keep the secret I will reward you, you will be the richest barber that ever lived."
Well, the barber managed to hold back the laughter the first time he saw Midas's ears. But he kept the promise, and once a month he cut his hair.
But as time wore on the secret was bursting to escape him....like a cow's utter that was never milked....he had to tell someone!
One night when he could no longer stand it he ran out to the edge of the city down by the river. He dug a deep hole and bent down into the hole and shouted into it "MIDAS HAS ASS'S EARS!!!" And then quickly filled the hole back up and patted the dirt down with his hands.
What a load off his soul! He went back home and was able to sleep.
But what the barber hadn't noticed, was a little seed that fell into the hole just as he shouted into it and then backfilled it.
Over time that seed germinated and finally grew into grass. And when the wind gently blew, it whispered "Midas has ass's ears".
And the wind blew this whispered message across the fields where all the other grasses and plants and even the leaves on the trees picked it up and all whispered "Midas has ass's ears, Midas has ass's ears" until it reached the edge of the city.
Then one morning Midas woke to the sound of children laughing. When he went to the window he heard the children shriek "have you heard? Midas has ass's ears!"
With a heavy heart Midas poured himself a cup of poison (he didn't even think to punish the barber....what was the point?") He drank the poison down and died.
This story is an excerpt (in my own words) from Stephen Fry's "Mythos". The show that I'm doing right now. Stephen is a genius story teller...he has the audience in the palms of his hands.
And yeah I recorded the pan flute and the lyre and it plays back during the telling of the musical competition.