Polydeukes and Kastor are carrying wounded Talos. Detail from an Athenian volute-crater, c. 400-390 BC. Ruvo, Sammlung Jatta Inv. 1501 ? Sammlung Jatta, Ruvo

The name of the Talaea Mountains refers to the giant Talos, who played an important role in Cretan mythology. Talos, or Talus (in the ancient Cretan dialect it means sun), was a giant creature made of bronze that some writers say was the last survivor of the Bronze Age. Talos guarded the island of Crete and was given to Europa by Zeus. According to others, Talos was designed by Hephaestus, who gave the robot to King Minos. Hephaestus' robot guarded Crete by walking around the perimeter of the island three times a day and throwing rocks and other debris at ships so that they would not land on the island.

When Zeus was united with Europe (after he kidnapped her and took her to Crete), to show her his love he gave her three presents, one of which was the bronze giant Talos, created by Hephaestus. According to mythology, Talos was the son of Cris and father of Phaestos or, according to another version, he was Minos’ brother.

His duty was to travel around the island with his bronze slates with the laws and make sure that they were obeyed. He also protected Crete from the enemy, throwing rocks to the enemy ships or burning them with his hot bronze body.

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. The Argonauts encountered Talos on their way home from Libya.

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.

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 an Argonaut Poeas, who shot him in the ankle with an arrow.