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Talos the Bronze Giant from Jason and the Argonauts

Tálos was a giant creature made of bronze in Greek mythology, that some writers say was the last survivor from the Bronze Age of man.


Etymology

From Greek λως; Lat. Talus There are suppositions that the name "Talos" in the old Cretan language meant the Sun, and that Zeus was known in Crete by the similar name of Zeus Tallaios.


Origin

According to one version of the myths he was created in Sardinia by Hephaestus on Zeus' command, who gave him to the Cretan king Minos. In another version Talos came to Crete with Zeus to watch over his love Europa, and Minos received him as a gift from her.


Function

Talos' purpose was to run from his seat in Phaestos around the island three times a day and to throw rocks at any foreign ship coming to Crete without permission. When people from Sardinia attempted to invade Crete, Talos made himself glow in the fire and he clutched the soldiers in a fiery embrace with a wild grimace, burning them to death. This led to the term "sardonic grin."


Powers/Weaknesses

Talos was a very strong creature that had but one weak spot on his body, the vein in his ankle. His bronze body was kept alive by an ichor contained in that single vein. When the nail is removed, Talos's ichor flows out, exsanguinating and killing him.

Story

According to Apollodorus, Talos was slain either when Medea the sorceress drove him mad with drugs, deceived him that she would make him immortal by removing the nail, or was killed by Poeas's arrow. In the Argonautica, Medea hypnotizes him from the Argo, driving him mad so that he dislodges the nail himself and dies.

Talos had one vein which went from his neck to his ankle, bound shut by only one bronze nail. The Argo, containing Jason and the Argonauts, approached Crete after obtaining the Golden Fleece. As guardian of the island, Talos kept the Argo at bay by hurling great boulders at it. Medea convinced Talos that she would give him a secret potion that would make him immortal if he would let her stop on the island. Talos agreed and drank the potion, and it made him fall asleep. Medea went to him in his sleep and pulled the plug in his ankle, whereupon Talos bled to death (Argonautica 4.1638). Other stories say that when Medea tried to land on the island, Talos scraped his ankle on a rock while trying to fight her off and bled to death.

According to an entirely different version, Talos was killed by the Argonaut Poeas, who shot him in the ankle with an arrow (Apollodorus 1.140). The story is somewhat reminiscent of the story regarding the heel of Achilles - Achilles, like Talos, could not be killed unless he was shot in the heel.


Theories

From ancient times various versions of this myth existed. First of all, this bronze creature Talos and his special anatomy represented a mythological transformation of a technique used for creating bronze statues, which was called "lost wax." This process of making bronze figures was common after the 16th century BCE in Crete, especially at Phaestos, which was believed to be the mythical dwelling of Talos.

According to Apollodorus and Argonautica, Talos may have been a member of the Ageg of Bronze generation which had survived to the age of the demigods. Europa took him to Crete and he stayed there, circling the island's shore three times daily while guarding it. He threw rocks at any approaching ship.

A political interpretation of the myth tells that Talos is the Minoan fleet armed with metallic weapons. When the Greeks from the Argo defeat him, the power of Crete vanishes.

Robert Graves suggests that this myth is based on a misinterpretation of a picture of Athena demonstrating the Lost Wax process for casting bronze, which Daedalus brought to Sardinia.


Art/Fiction

  • Talos was represented together with the Argonauts and Medea on various vases from the 5th century BCE. Talos was portrayed on the coins of Phaestos in the 4th century BCE as a youthful nude figure with long wings hurling the stones from his hands.
  • In the computer game Dark Quest IX, level 14, Danger in Hades, Talos is a huge monster who the player must defeat with Infernal Fire Bolts and Inferno Blasters to pass to the next level, Trouble in Dis.
  • Talos is in the Monster in My Pocket series.
  • In the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000 the Talos is an automaton in the form of a scorpion. It is used as a torture device by the Dark Eldar.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, Talos is the name of a monster that can be captured and placed on a monster team. He looks like the traditional Dragon Quest stone statue, a clear reference to this mythical figure.
  • Talos is an evil god of thunder and destruction in the Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting.
  • In the Elder Scrolls series, The first emperor of the Cyrodiilic Empire, Tiber Septim, was at one point named Talos. He also used an automaton by the name of Numidium. He would later become one of the Nine Divines.
  • Talos is a boss monster in Shining Force II, mistakenly named "Taros", a good example of Engrish. On the combat screen, Talos appears as two legs and a sword moving up and down, because it's too tall to all show.
  • The story of Talos may also have inspired the origin of the Japanese anime robot Mazinger Z.
  • In Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance Talos appears right at the beginning where Juste has to outrun him until he gets to the castle bridge then later in the game appears as a Boss.
  • Talos of the Wilderness Sea is a comic by Gil Kane and Jan Strnad.
  • In the novel Spartan written by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Talos is the name given to the crippled Spartan child who was exposed in the Taygetus mountains by his father due to Spartan law decreeing all newborns who were weak or disabled be abandoned in the nearby mountain range. When the baby is found by the elderly Helot shepherd he is named after the mythical bronze giant Talos who was said to have his weakness in his right leg. The child's deformity laid within his right leg and hence he was given the name Talos. In addition the name would remind the young boy of his disability in future in order to further compell him to strengthen himself.
  • In the novel All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren, the author originally chose the surname Talos for the character eventually renamed Willie Stark, a Southern governor. The name was intended to highlight the character's protective and yet parisitic relationship with the poor rural 'hicks' who made up his constituency. On the advice of his editor, the surname was changed to sound more stereotypically Anglo-American, but a restored version of the novel edited by literary critic Noel Polk and released in 2001 restored Warren's original choice of surname to Talos.
  • In the videogame Spartan: Total Warrior Talos is an automaton sent by the Roman army to destroy the walls of Sparta. The player must defeat him through use of catapults.
  • In the MMORPG City of Heroes, Talos was a giant superhero looking something like a minotaur who perished saving a nearby island from a huge monster. A great statue of the hero was erected near there, and the island was renamed 'Talos Island' in his honor.
  • In the children's action/adventure television show, Class of the Titans, the main villain reawakens Talos, casting a protection spell over his ankle bolt to keep it from being removed. Three of the seven heroes come up with a plan and manage to knock Talos into the island volcano.


External links


Sources

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.

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