What does “Pactole” stand for?


The Pactole is a river in Lydia, a former region of Asia Minor now part of Turkey, which was known as the gold carrier during antiquity. Hence the French expression “toucher le pactole” (hit the jackpot), which means to earn a fortune. Let’s take a look back at this golden legend.

Who has not dreamed of being able to transform everything he touches into gold? This was the wish of Midas, king of Phrygia, who according to the legend, would have lived at the end of the 8th century before our era. This king one day granted his protection to a stranger who, intoxicated, wandered in the streets of his city and was usually scolded at by the inhabitants. Midas pushed his generosity to invite him to stay in his palace and enjoy all these riches. And it was wise action …. For in reality, this drunkard was none other than Silenus, the foster father of Bacchus, the god of wine. The latter quickly rewarded Midas for taking his satyr father under his wing, and promised him to make his dearest dream come true. Midas, out of cupidity or stupidity, immediately confided to the god his desire to turn into gold all that he came to touch. But wham! Our good king of Phrygia became surrounded by more gold than necessary, and yet dying of hunger: gold is edible! Let us be wary of our dreams, the realization of which is not always up to our expectations … Finally, Midas narrowly escaped death thanks to Bacchus’s subterfuge, who ordered him to wash his hands in the Pactole river, which since then has been carrying gold flakes …