Gordius (gôrˈdēəs) [key], in Greek mythology, king of Phrygia. An oracle had told the Phrygians that the king who would put an end to their troubles was approaching in an oxcart, and, thus, when Gordius, a peasant, appeared in his wagon, he was hailed king. In gratitude, Gordius dedicated his wagon to Zeus and attached the pole to the yoke with a knot that defied efforts to untie it. This was the Gordian knot. An oracle declared that he who untied it would become leader of all Asia. A later legend states that when Alexander the Great came to Phrygia, he severed the knot with one blow of his sword. Hence the saying, "to cut the Gordian knot," meaning to solve a perplexing problem with a single bold action.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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