Talos – Crete

Talos – Crete

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The Greek Myth of Talos (‘Τάλως’)—the first ‘robot-like’ creature in human mythology—is certainly a fascinating one. Talos is a name which, according to ancient descriptions, is related directly to Zeus (Jupiter). On the Greek island of Crete, Zeus was also called Talios, and in the ancient Greek dialect ‘Talos’ was the name of the Sun.

According to the legends, Talos was not a human being but a creature made by Zeus himself. Another version of the myth attributes his creation to Hephaestus, the god of fire and iron. In other versions, Talos was the son of Cres and the god Hephaestus.

Talos was the sun god of Crete and was supposedly constructed of brass. A single vein starting from his neck and running down to his ankles carried his life-blood—liquid metal—and upon each ankle was bolted a nail to prevent the liquid metal from leaking out and, thus, causing him to die. The depictions of Talos in coins and paintings vary, some of which portray him with wings while yet others depict him without wings.

Talos was given to Minos, the king of Crete, by Zeus to protect Crete against any invader; however, according to Apollonius Rhodius , Talos was a gift from Zeus to Europe in order to protect her and her kids, whom she later gifted to king Minos.

According to Plato, Talos protected Crete by travelling around the island three times a day. Crete is the biggest island in Greece and going around it three times a day is an enormous task, meaning that either Talos was a giant creature, or he had other means of transportation, such as flying, which may explain why he is sometimes depicted with wings. When any enemy ship approached Crete, Talos would send huge rocks and destroy the ships from a distance; and if enemies could get on the land of Crete, Talos would make his body super-hot and kill the enemies.

However, the protection of Crete was not his only mission; Talos also had to make sure that the divine laws were being followed by all inhabitants of the island. To fulfil this duty, three times a year he would visit all the villages of the island carrying the metallic plates on which the divine laws were inscribed.

Talos protected Crete for many years until he was finally defeated by Jason and the Argonauts, and not by any kind of weapon, of course, but by trickery. When Jason and the Argonauts approached Crete, Medea, the sorceress, occupied Talos by talking to him and using spells, persuading him to remove the nails from his ankles. Thus the liquid metal spilled out and Talos died.

History has shown us that some myths, such as the story of Troy, have developed from real events that were incomprehensible and, perhaps, unexplainable by the people of the time who witnessed them.  One way for witnesses to pass on a record of such events is to use words and depictions that are consistent with their current understanding, knowledge and beliefs. 

So could it be that the account of Talos was, in fact, based on reality?  And if so, what could Talos be – a spacecraft, a mechanically created device, an extra-terrestrial?  The descriptions are certainly consistent with some kind of mechanical flying device – made of brass with flying wings, capable of circling a large land mass three times per day and with the ability to fire some kind of weapon at enemy ships. And what about the vein running down the length of its body carrying its life-blood (liquid metal), which would cause it to die if it was spilled?  Is this an advanced form of power to fuel an extra-terrestrial spacecraft? 

For now, the answers to these questions remain elusive.  But whatever the answer, Talos remains a fascinating and mysterious ancient Greek story.

Related Links

Talos

Archaeology, Mythology and History of Crete : Talos

Greek Myth Index - Talos

Related Books

Comments

The old stories stated that Talos was loved by the people and that he would help the people of Crete, like moving great boulders for them and other feats. Years after he stopped working he was finally melted down for his metal, they did the same with the Colossus of Rhodes. If you want to really learn about myths you have to check more than 1 site and even go to a library from time to time.

angieblackmon's picture

why is it that giant creatures are so often and so easily outsmarted by the little guy. don't get me wrong, i root for the underdog...just curious why this seems to be the unwritten rule....

love, light and blessings

AB

ancient-origins's picture

Well, the 'dictionary of Englih Folklore' is not a proper source to understand an ancient greek word: 'Myth', don't you think? Have a look at this article http://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins/meaning-word-myth-0061.

Myths are "stories about divine beings, generally arranged in a coherent system; they are revered as true and sacred; they are endorsed by rulers and priests; and closely linked to religion. Once this link is broken, and the actors in the story are not regarded as gods but as human heroes, giants or fairies, it is no longer a myth but a folktale. Where the central actor is divine but the story is trivial ... the result is religious legend, not myth." [J. Simpson & S. Roud, "Dictionary of English Folklore," Oxford, 2000, p.254]

natasa's picture

It is said that the liqud running in his veins was Ichor, the Olympians blood which kept its bronze body alive.

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