Alexander did not stop long in Caria. Marching onward, he soon came to the city of Gordium, in Phrygia, where Midas had once reigned. In one of the temples the people proudly showed Alexander the cart in which this king rode as he entered their city.
The yoke was fastened to the pole by a rope tied in a peculiar and very intricate knot. Now, it seems that an ancient prophecy had declared that whoever untied the Gordian knot would surely be master of all Asia.
Of course, as Alexander had set his heart upon conquering the whole world, he looked at this knot with great interest; but a few moments’ careful examination made him feel sure that he would not be able to untie it. Rather than give it up, however, Alexander drew his sword, and cut it with a single quick stroke.
Ever since then, when a person has settled a difficulty by bold or violent means instead of patiently solving it, the custom has been to say that he has “cut the Gordian knot,” in memory of this feat of Alexander’s.
From: H. A. Guerber, The Story of the Greeks; edited for this online publication, by ELLOPOS BLOG