Talos

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In the Cretan tales incorporated into Greek mythology, Talos (pronounced /ˈteɪlɒs/; Greek: Τάλως, Talōs) or Talon (/ˈteɪlən/; Greek: Τάλων, Talōn) was a giant man of bronze[1] who protected Europa in Crete from pirates and invaders by circling the island's shores three times daily[2] while guarding it.

Contents

History

According to Brian Sparkes "The most detailed treatment in literature is to be found in the Argonautica... however, we have detailed images of the episode, 150 years earlier, dated to around 400 BC."[3]

Talos is said to be created from a petition from Zeus to Hephaestus, to protect Europa from persons who would want to kidnap her.

Narratives and meaning

In the Cretan dialect, talôs was the equivalent of the Greek hêlios, the sun: the lexicon of Hesychius of Alexandria notes simply "Talos is the sun". In Crete Zeus was worshipped as Zeus Tallaios,[4] "Solar Zeus", absorbing the earlier god as an epithet in the familiar sequence.[5] The god was identified with the Tallaia, a spur of the Ida range in Crete. On the coin from Phaistos (illustration) he is winged; in Greek vase-paintings and Etruscan bronze mirrors he is not. The ideas of Talos vary widely, with one consistent detail: in Greek imagery outside Crete, Talos is always being vanquished:[6] he seems to have been an enigmatic figure to the Greeks themselves.[7]

Talos is described by Greeks as either a gift from Hephaestus to Minos, forged with the aid of the Cyclopes in the form of a bull[8] or a gift from Zeus to Europa.[9] Or he may have been the son of Kres, the personification of Crete;[10] In Argonautica Talos threw rocks at any approaching ship to protect his island.[11] In the Byzantine encyclopia The Suda, Talos is said, when the Sardinians did not wish to release him to Minos, to have heated himself red-hot by jumping into a fire and to have clasped them in his embrace.[12]

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