Warning: Unavoidable spoilers for Shadowbringers throughout.

Mythology Manual – Talos: Robotic Retainers

A memorable aspect of Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers expansion is the surprisingly prominent role played by the Talos. In the world of The First (a planet devastated by an endless barrage of Light), the Talos are a class of strong golem-like automaton that were once used for an assortment of strenuous labour. Over the course of the game, the protagonists convince the native inhabitants of the First to reactivate their Talos and, with such aid, restore the night sky.

In Greek mythology, Talos is a roving, bronze sentinel who runs the circuit around Crete’s coastline to defend it from outsiders. Let’s gear up as we explore the fascinating ways in which the Talos of Final Fantasy XIV relate to their mythical namesake.

The Bronze Guardian: Talos in Mythology

Serving as an unorthodox form of border control, the Talos of Greek mythology is imagined as a man made of bronze who sprints the perimeter of Crete three times a day in order to protect the island from strangers. As the largest island in Greece (covering an area of 8,336 km²), that is no small feat. Perhaps by way of explaining this, Talos is sometimes imagined to be gigantic (although this is not explicit in most ancient texts).

As a relatively obscure figure, the references to Talos in ancient literature are scant and brief, and so there is little agreed consensus on his origins. Lost works which survive to us in later citations offer an insight into the general picture that endured. The 6th century BC poet Simonides apparently had Talos crafted by the forge god Hephaestus and gifted to the Cretan King Minos to guard Crete (Simonides, Fragment:204 [Edmonds] via Photius, Lexicon:500.24; Suidas:s.v. Sardanios gelôs). In Daedalus, a 5th century BC lost play, Sophocles seems to have fashioned his Talos in a similar manner (Sophocles, Fragment:160, 161).

Nevertheless, the most complete extant source, The Argonautica—Apollonius of Rhodes’ 3rd century BC Hellenistic epic poem—instead regards Talos as a leftover from the ‘bronze race’ born of ash-trees. Sometimes translated as ‘Bronze Age’, the figurative ‘bronze race’ was the third génos (‘generation/race’) of man created by Zeus according to Hesiod. By slotting Talos here, Apollonius not only suggests that Talos was literally bronze in composition, but by this he might imply that Talos had somehow survived the calamity of the flood of Deucalion, remaining down the generations to the ‘Age of Heroes’ (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:4.1641-1644; c.f. Hesiod, Works and Days:140-155). The mythographer Pseudo-Apollodorus (1st-2nd centuries AD) repeats this, but adds that some others say that he was gifted to King Minos of Crete by Hephaestus, implying a previous ownership by the latter (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:1.9.26). In another account (by the 8th century BC poet Cinaethon—lost, but recounted by the Roman-era travel writer Pausanias), Talos is reported to be the son of Cres (either personified Crete or a founder-figure) and the father of Hephaestus (Pausanias, Description of Greece:8.53.5). Subsequently, as common to many Greek myths, our perception of Talos ultimately depends upon whoever is telling his story.


Talos (here with wings) hurling stones on a silver coin from Phaistos, Crete,
4th-3rd centuries BC. Wings are absent from the figure of Talos in literature and vase art.
Whether these wings served to express divinity/supernatural power,
or to explain how Talos could move around Crete so swiftly, remains unclear.

Image by Jastrow.

When Jason and the Argonauts attempted to land on Crete during their return journey after obtaining the coveted Golden Fleece, Talos was there to throw rocks at them to stop them from docking (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:1.9.26; Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:1638-1640). Rather than flee, however, the Argonauts’ had an ace up their sleeve. In the process of obtaining the Golden Fleece in Colchis, Jason had charmed the princess of that country, the sorceress Medea, who consequently abandoned her home, made bitter enemies of her family, and sailed away with the Argonauts (Pherecydes 3F32 [FGrHist]; Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:4.305-521; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:1.9.24). With Medea’s aid, the Argonauts were to exploit Talos’ one weakness. As a man made of literal bronze, Talos was imagined to be invulnerable all over, with a vein of ichor (the blood substitute fluid common to immortals and gods) running through him to his ankles, held in by either a bronze nail or a flap of skin. Some traditions have Medea drug Talos; others have the poor man tricked by her (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:1.9.26). Alternatively, Medea spooks Talos through her mystical incanting of death spirits and, bewildered, he snags his ankle on a rock (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:4.1665-1688). Regardless of the precise tactic, whether by magic or deceit, Medea unplugs Talos’ ankle and the ichor/blood flows out, causing his death.


Talos as he appears in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). With its impressive stop-motion
animation by Ray Harryhausen, this film remains widely appreciated by film buffs.
This statuesque, bronze colossus became the iconic modern image of Talos in contemporary popular culture.

It is easy to see why. With jerky movements accompanied by haunting, metallic creaky noises, Talos straddles
the harbour to attack the fleeing Argonauts: an impactful pose which emulates popular (albeit inaccurate) images
of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Made Runner: Is Talos a ‘Robot’ or an Enchanted Statue?

There is interest amongst scholarship concerning the unusual nature of Talos’ existence in Greek mythology. In ancient imaginations, rather than being born as the result of some noteworthy union, this man of bronze may not have been born at all. According to some renditions of his myth, Talos instead appears to have been manufactured by Hephaestus. In a now-lost poem, the 6th century BC poet Simonides, according to later testimonia, had Talos as a crafted being capable of moving and killing (Simonides, Fragment:204 [Edmonds] via Photius, Lexicon:500.24; Suidas:s.v. Sardanios gelôs). In modern terms, Talos has been regarded as an artificial being comparable to a robot.


Croteam’s visually spectacular puzzle game The Talos Principle (2014) tackles the philosophical questions
posed by Talos and artificial intelligence. Albeit esoteric, it forms a significant recent contribution
to the perception of Talos in modern popular culture: the association of Talos with robots.

Image from Xboxone-hq.

A more cautious reading of the myth might be to imagine Talos as an enchanted bronze statue. The nature of Talos’ death, by the removal of a plug in his ankle through which his ichor/blood flows out, has been connected by some scholars to the ‘lost-wax’ methods of bronze sculpture production. There are variations of the technique, but approximately this involved creating clay models (or wooden armatures), coating them with layers of beeswax, carving finer details into the wax, and covering them with multiple layers of clay to create moulds. These are then placed into furnaces, the bases pierced so that melted wax can flow out (on human statues this might be done in the feet). Molten bronze is poured into the voids where the wax had previously been and takes the desired shapes. The moulds are then broken and the bronze statues, or component parts, are revealed.

Indeed, Talos is often accompanied with craft-centred terminology. Apollonius of Rhodes compares the fatal flowing of Talos’ unplugged ichor with ‘molten lead’ (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:4.1679-1680). The same poet’s connection of Talos with the ash tree-born bronze race and other wood-based imagery develop this picture further (such as having him falling like a felled tree when he dies: Argonautica:4.1682). Talos could, therefore, be a statue granted ‘life’ by magical—rather than technological—means. More Pinocchio than C3-P0.

Nonetheless, the reading of Talos as a machine may not be without basis. The bronze man’s dependence on a vein of ichor in order to function has for some invited a comparison with internal, artificial systems. Ancient Greeks did at times imagine automata (‘self-moving’ devices). In Homer, the Greek god of the forge, Hephaestus, crafts golden maids which act as his automated servants, and he also builds tripods with golden wheels to move of their own accord (Homer, Iliad:18.373-377, 410-427). The golden maids, in particular, are described as emulating human speech and consciousness.

Outside mythology, the historical Greeks experimented with complicated mechanisms operated via hydraulics (water pumps/siphons), pneumatics (compressed air) and springs, amongst other methods. Some of the earliest references to ‘moving’ statues represent nothing more than poetically phrased praise for the life-mimicking qualities of the artwork (the 5th century Rhodian statues described by Pindar might fit this category: Pindar, Olympian Odes:7.50-54). However, mechanical toys existed by at least the Classical period, according to the reports of later writers. For example, Archytas (420-350 BC) was said to have designed a self-propelled artificial dove capable of limited flight (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights:10.12.9-10). Into the Hellenistic era in the wake of Alexander the Great’s conquests, Polybius refers to a device that Nabis (king/tyrant of Sparta, reigning 207 BC-192 BC) had made to resemble his wife, Apega, which he allegedly used to crush people who refused to give him money. Victims were encouraged to greet ‘Apega’ with a handshake, only to inadvertently activate the machine which pulled them into a death-hug towards spikes hidden underneath its clothes (Polybius, Histories:13.7). Realistic automata attributed to the inventor Philo (280-220 BC) include mechanical maids capable of serving wine and water, as well as various intricate, kinetic sculptures involving moving animals and mythical creatures. The designs of his spiritual successor, the Roman-era Heron (AD 10-70), comprise a moving model of Heracles shooting a snake with an arrow, various engines and a mini-theatre (which mechanically performed a short play with moving models). Considering this interest, the idea of Talos being perceived as a mechanical being in some periods may not be entirely farfetched. Nevertheless, it would be appropriate to avoid retroactively forcing modern notions of ‘robots’ onto the imaginations of the ancient Greeks.

Beyond being a moving sculpture, the mythical Talos does appear to be sentient. In Apollonius’ epic, the sorceress Medea is able to put the disorienting fear of death into him via her evil stare and death spirit incantations (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:4.1665-1688). In one of the three variants of Talos’ death recited by Pseudo-Apollodorus, Talos is instead tricked by Medea into believing that removing the plug in his ankle would make him immortal, which implies that a long life was indeed desired by Talos (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:1.9.26). Some propose that the death of Talos may have been an integral part of Sophocles’ lost play Daedalus (Sophocles Fragment:161), and this tallies well with the tragic and humanised presentation of Talos on vases too; Talos evokes the same pathos as a human character, not a mere object. Talos’ sense of mortality, and the audience’s uneasy, conflicted feelings of empathy for a non-organic lifeform, are standard fare in science fiction concerning artificial intelligence, which must surely contribute to the expression of Talos’ myth in these terms in modern popular imagination.


To die implies that one lived.
The death of the bronze man Talos is represented as tragic on ancient vase paintings.

Left, an Attic red-figure krater, 450-400 BC, held at the Museo Archeologico del Sannio Caudino, Montesarchio.
Here, Jason unplugs the nail/bolt in Talos’ ankle whilst a miniature winged figure (possibly Thanatos,
the personification of Death), presumably conjured by Medea, collects the ichor in a tiny cup.
The Dioscuri twins (Castor and Pollux) catch Talos as he falls.
Photo by ArchaiOptix.

Right, an Attic red-figure krater, approximately 400-390 BC, held at the National Archaeological Museum Jatta, Ruvo di Puglia.
Here, the Dioscuri are on horseback but still catch Talos after Medea (far left) kills him. This vase is striking for
emphasising Talos’ emotion. His skin has also been rendered shiny, possibly to focus our eyes upon him,
or—as some suggest—to reflect his unique make-up as a sculpted metal-man.
Photo by Faliriotissa.

Regardless of ancient intentions, the idea of imagining Talos as a robot is fashionable in modern popular culture. Whilst Square Enix have gone down this route, they have not, however, gone as far as one might have expected. Within Final Fantasy XIV, ‘mecha’ tropes are more prominently reflected in the time-travelling colossal robot Alexander, the hi-tech devices of the Allag Empire (and the later Garlean derivative Ultima Weapon programme), and the alien robotic entity Omega. Conversely, big philosophical questions concerning consciousness/living (within the context of artificial life) are more appropriately explored through Omega and Gigi (Final Fantasy XIV’s automaton rendition of Final Fantasy IX’s living doll-robot Vivi). The Talos automata of Final Fantasy XIV are relatively low-tech compared with other robotic machines in that game’s universe, and they are also imbued with magic. On numerous occasions the Talos are even referred to as golems rather than machines. In stark contrast to Medea’s victim in mythology (where magic causes his demise), in Shadowbringers, magic spells form the spark which grants Talos life. Characters reactivate long-abandoned Talos by installing a heart crafted from mined aether-rich stones and then magically channelling their own aether (magical life-force) into it. Talos are therefore, in a sense, powered by the fuel of life-energy, which we might also compare with the mythical Talos’ immortal vein of ichor.


Left, long-abandoned Talos being reactivated by the protagonists. Urianger, Y’shtola and others transfer some of their
aether (life-energy) into the Talos, which recharges their internal aether-rich ore cores and sets them into motion.
Once ‘alive’ (depicted right) they behave and move like machines with ponderous, jerky movements.

Although characters regularly describe freshly reawakened Talos as being ‘restored to life’, and some local inhabitants at times express deep admiration for them, for the most part the Talos are treated as tools, not living beings. The first time the player sees a Talos reactivated, a drunk, bereaved Ronso calls it a ‘worthless pile of earth’ and punches it. Disturbingly, mouths are entirely absent from the design of Talos, so if they can think, they cannot express themselves that way. Unable to speak or act of their own free will, the Talos of Shadowbringers do not appear to be capable of anything except following simple commands. This makes them slightly more grounded and realistic vis-à-vis ancient automata, rather than intense contemporary science fiction. But it also blurs their precise nature of being (alive or life-mimicking; mechanical or magical), very much reflecting the ambiguities also present in modern interpretations of Talos’ source myths.


Left, a broken Talos near the town of Wright in Kholusia. After the Daedalus Stoneworks closed
down fifteen years ago, the Talos gradually started to shut down. According to Eueliss,
Wright’s former mayor’s daughter, this individual Talos was once Sai-Lewq’s personal favourite.

Right, the Ronso Magnus hitting the first Talos to be reactivated by the protagonists. Magnus’ wife died
whilst trying to revive Talos in the past, and so he gave up and became a drunkard. His abuse of the machine
is therefore grief-driven, and temporary, but it nonetheless indicates that the Talos
are not considered to be living beings.

Classifying the Talos of Shadowbringers

The Talos of Final Fantasy XIV are presented as automata servants of labour (‘robot’ in its original, Czech etymological sense of a ‘slave’, if you like). In terms of visual appearance and function there are three distinct forms of Talos. Those of the island of Kholusia are constructed from smoothly polished stone and were used for cranking up a colossal cliff-side elevator, as well as working on the docks. By contrast, the Talos of the deserts of Amh Araeng are more bricklike in construction and in better days were used to aid mining ventures in tasks such as pushing trolleys. The third—and by far the largest and most crudely constructed Talos—is the colossal Talos assembled from fragments of broken mountain in a wild but successful bid to grab the floating runaway Mount Gulg. This latter, novel Talos has no refined features at all and is used for that singular purpose. Upon completion of its task, the gargantuan Talos remains locked in position, grasping the mountain for perpetuity, becoming part of Kholusia’s landscape.


Left, the Talos of Kholusia’s well-polished surface has an almost metallic sheen to it in some lights.
Right, their equivalent at Amh Araeng are brick-built golems (closely resembling the golems of the Dragon Quest franchise),
but there are noticeable bronze components around their eyes and on their chests.
Hence bronze is not entirely absent from these Talos.


The giant Talos grips Mount Gulg firmly. Aside from the blue aether-imbued mineral veins,
this Talos is difficult to visually separate from its environment.

This Talos is the idea of the Scions from the Source (hence another world),
but the inhabitants of the First rally together to bring the (frankly ludicrous) plan to fruition.
It enables the protagonists to climb up the Talos and access the mountain
in order to vanquish Vauthry (the local tyrant who hid there).

Since the Talos of Final Fantasy XIV have laid dormant and unused for approximately fifteen years at the outset of Shadowbringers, some appear to have suffered malfunctions and continue to exist without mankind’s influence. Several rogue ‘wild’ Talos can even be fought in both Kholusia and Amh Araeng (Defective Talos and Masterless Talos, respectively). Other Talos, the Royal Cupbearers and the Amphibious Talos, are variant feral Talos of the Amh Araeng variety encountered at Malikah's Well. The Amphibious Talos, fought here as a boss, is a unique water-obsessed Talos which has taken to covering itself in buckets and we are presumably invited to imagine that it used to be tasked with carrying water within/from this landmark. These better fit the Greek Talos’ adversary status in myth.


Amphibious Talos scan from Shadowbringers: The Art of Reflection — Histories Forsaken artbook.
The Amphibious Talos is the most eccentric of all of the Talos in the game. When Malikah’s Well was in use,
this Talos likely had something to do with transporting water. In the long years which followed
the landmark’s abandonment, however, this Talos has taken to wearing buckets for shoes, gloves and a hat.

Is this evidence that Talos can exhibit individual behaviours and personalities?
Does this mean that they can ‘think’ after all?
It is the only Talos to express a fashion choice, and its strange
behaviour is noted by the non-player characters (if present).

A final, minor subcategory of Talos is the miniature Sungold Talos, which can be acquired as a minion to accompany the player on the field. This golden Talos—which appears to be modelled on the Amh Araeng brick-form variety—is a treasured relic from the heyday of the company which produced Talos: Daedalus Stoneworks. The toy’s gold materials and its in-game description’s praise of its ‘true-to-life detail’ suit the commendation of realism in ancient texts of the mythical craftsman Daedalus, who had prized golden objects attributed to him (Diodorus Siculus, Library:4.78.5).


The Sungold Talos: a toy from the golden age of Daedalus Stoneworks.
The company had already disbanded over a decade before the beginning of Shadowbringers.

The reference to the sun also holds relevance. The mythical Talos was killed by Medea,
the granddaughter of Helios (the personified sun). Additionally, Hesychius, a Greek grammarian
of late antiquity, said that Talos is the sun himself
(Hesychius Alexandrinus, Lexicon:Τ 87).
An old strand of scholarship concerning the Greek Talos proposes that the character was
adapted from an older Cretan solar deity, with etymological roots in
the Cretan dialect connecting him with the sun.

Image from

Squeezing Blood from a Stone: Talos’ Attack Modes

A few aspects about the Shadowbringers Talos’ behaviour require closer attention. In Greek mythology, the Cretan sentinel had two primary means of attack. First and foremost, Talos was known to break off rocky chunks from cliffs so that he could hurl them at approaching ships to sink them or scare them away from the protected island’s shores (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:4.1638-1640, 1677-1678; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:1.9.26). In Shadowbringers, the primary function of the Talos of Amh Araeng was to help miners carry stones. In the past, before people lost hope and the ability to use the Talos, they were used regularly to push mining carts. The player helps the locals at the Old Western-themed mining town of Twine restore and reactivate one such Talos during the expansion’s main scenario quests. Additionally, as mentioned beforehand, the later giant Talos clutches an enormous rock in the form of the peak of Mount Gulg. Lastly, the ‘wild’ Talos in both regions use a variety of earth-based attacks (namely Earthshatter and Subduction) which manipulate the ground, lifting up rocky masses against the player.


A freshly restored Amh Araeng Talos pushes the player and companions on a disused mining
cart so that they can pass through the mining tunnels through the mountains.

The second means of attack available to the Talos of mythology is to leap into fire, heat up his bronze body, and then hug his victims to death (Simonides, Fragment:204 [Edmonds] via Photius, Lexicon:500.24; Suidas:s.v. Sardanios gelôs). The natural pose of the Talos of Shadowbringers, their arms outstretched, makes the automata appear eager for a hug, but they do not attack by this method. The closest battle comparison might be the Mechanical Blow attack used by ‘wild’ Talos in which they punch the ground and emit a red-hot aura. Likewise, the Amphibious Talos, while mostly preferring location-appropriate water-based attacks, at times heats up a drill and then pierces the ground with it, forcing geyser-jets of water at the party.


The restored Kholusian Talos. Whether hostile or obedient, these Talos are ready for a hug.
This pose is common to machines, undead, and other beings of borderline consciousness,
so we need not assume that this is intentionally recreating this specific
aspect of the Talos myth. It is, however, a snug fit.

The Island of Talos: Crete and Kholusia

In Greek mythology, Talos’ association with Crete is inseparable. Whether he is imagined as a gift to Crete or the son of Cres (Crete’s founder-figure or personification), Crete is a part of him. An alternative account of Talos (repeated by Pseudo-Apollodorus in the 1st-2nd century AD) presents Talos as a bull rather than a bronze man, hence adding Talos to the lengthy list of bull stories populating Cretan mythology (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:1.9.26). In the one (barely) surviving narrative where Talos might not be in Crete (instead the Italian island of Sardinia), it is when he is being collected by King Minos of Crete.

Shadowbringers’ Talos also connect with Crete specifically. An old company which once manufactured Talos for labour was named Daedalus Stoneworks. This name alludes to the Athenian-born master-builder Daedalus who resides in King Minos’ court at Crete in Greek mythology. Amongst countless constructions attributed to him, the two most famous are the labyrinth which housed the Minotaur, and the wings which enabled himself and his ill-fated son Icarus to fly away from Crete after falling out of favour with the king (Diodorus Siculus, Library:4.77; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:2.6.3; Epitome:1.11-14; Hyginus, Fabulae:40).


The Lament for Icarus (1898) by Herbert J. Draper.
The fallen angel-like demise of Icarus is amongst the most iconic of classical images.
After failing to heed his father’s advice, Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax holding
his wings together. As a consequence, he plummeted to his death into
what is now, in his honour, known as the Icarian Sea

(Diodorus Siculus, Library:4.77; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:2.6.3; Pausanias, Description of Greece:9.11.5;
Ovid, Metamorphoses:8.230; Hyginus, Fabulae:40).

There are a handful of reasons Square Enix may have associated Daedalus with Talos here. The lost play Daedalus by Sophocles might have featured Talos somewhat prominently. Although the forge-god Hephaestus, rather than Daedalus, is typically named as Talos’ creator, the two were sometimes conflated and works considered to be by Hephaestus were at times accredited to Daedalus instead. Indeed, of the myriad works attributed to Daedalus in antiquity, some of his statues were imagined to be so realistic that it became commonplace to say that they were capable of moving (Diodorus Siculus, Library:4.76). In Classical Athens, a tongue-in-cheek trope common to Old Comedy and philosophy even imagined that Daedalus’ statues would run away if people did not tie them down (Aristophanes, Daedalus [Fragment 202]; Cratinus, Thracian Women [Fragment 75]; Plato, Euthyphro:11c-e, Meno:97d-98a). While some of these references could be a means of praising the art of Daedalus, others have alluded in more explicit terms to mechanics within Daedalus’ statuary inventions (Aristotle, On the Soul:1.3.406b; Callistratus, Ekphrasis:8).

There is also a more familial connection between Daedalus and Talos. Before coming to Crete, the artisan Daedalus is sometimes imagined to have employed his nephew as his apprentice in Athens. Sources vary on Daedalus’ nephew’s precise name, but in some accounts he was called Talos. The apprenticed Talos invented the potter’s wheel and iron saw but, rather than be proud, Daedalus erupted into a jealous rage and killed his nephew (sometimes hurling him from Athens’ acropolis—just as Hephaestus was hurled from Mount Olympus). When his nephew’s body was found, Daedalus fled to Crete (Diodorus Siculus, Library:4.76; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:3.15.8; Pausanias, Description of Greece:1.21.4).

In Shadowbringers, the present heir to the abandoned Daedalus Stoneworks is Chai-Nuzz, a resident of the thrill-seeking city Eulmore, capital of the island of Kholusia. This island is roughly analogous to the island of Crete. In antiquity, King Minos’ Cretan kingdom was considered to be the first thalassocracy—‘sea power’—and, while the historian Herodotus seems sceptical, many discussed it as if it was historical (Herodotus, Histories:3.122; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War:1.4; Diodorus Siculus, Library:4.60.3). Unlike King Minos’ mythical kingdom of Crete, Eulmore is not a thalassocracy—but it used to be. Before the Flood of Light destroyed the majority of the First, Kholusia enjoyed a thriving sea economy and power a lot like Limsa Lominsa and the island of Vylbrand on the Source, which it mirrors (the First is, geographically speaking, a carbon copy of the Source, the player character’s planet, after the original Star split into parallel worlds millennia ago). In the limited sea that was left, what remained of Kholusia’s sea-based dominance was further hampered by the tyrant Vauthry, who convinced his (rich) citizens to give up on fighting the Flood and to live in idleness and excess until their final days. In the present, long-wrecked ships litter the beaches at the foot of Eulmore; its shipyards and ports disused. With Eulmorian society disintegrated and socially segregated, all Talos operations ceased.


After Vauthry is overthrown, Dulia-Chai outs her husband, Chai-Nuzz, to be the (at first reluctant) heir to the disbanded
Daedalus Stoneworks company. This is a pivotal moment for Eulmore, its privileged citizens awakening to the
pain that they had caused to those less fortunate than themselves, and they begin to take responsibility.
It also allows them to revive their former skillsets, such as building and repairing Talos.


After the conclusion of Shadowbringers, in Kholusia’s post-Vauthry, post-Flood of Light revival,
the Talos have been put to work once again at the shipyards.
During Vauthry’s reign, the shipyards were abandoned. Eulmore did, nonetheless, maintain a ‘navy’
in the form of its airships which it used to spread fear and disinformation throughout the land.

What is mostly lacking when comparing Kholusia with Crete is the Minotaur: the man-bull monster that King Minos kept in his labyrinth and fed with the sacrifice of Athenian youths. Eulmore’s ruler, Vauthry, established a fool’s ‘peace’ for his people by forming a pact with the monstrous Sin Eaters (nightmarish Light-aspected creatures which arrived with the Flood of Light). A portion of ‘ascended’ citizens are invited to the ‘privilege’ of reaching the top floor, never to be seen again. It turns out that they turn into Sin Eaters themselves, and eventually are reconstituted as the foodstuff ‘Meol’ (which is then fed back to Eulmore’s naïve citizens, initiating their own slow, undetectable transformation into Sin Eaters, perpetuating an unsavoury cycle). Eulmore kept its monsters after all.


The soldiers of Eulmore wear distinctive horned helmets. The indirect visual effect of this is an army of ‘Minotaurs’
at the command of their tyrannical ruler, Vauthry. Throughout the game they seek to imprison the youth
Minfilia (later renamed Ryne) as well as to prevent the protagonists from ending
the Flood of Light (on which Eulmore’s fear-based domination relies).

When the protagonists storm Eulmore to unseat Vauthry, the leader is revealed to be part-Sin Eater himself, and he, abandoning his city of pleasures, sprouts wings and flies to Mount Gulg for sanctuary. There are loose parallels, albeit in reversed roles, in the flight of Vauthry from Eulmore to Mount Gulg, with the party in pursuit, and the flight of Daedalus and Icarus from Crete, chased by King Minos. Perhaps the party’s caution in choosing not to use air travel to reach Mount Gulg (because of the relentless attacks of Sin Eaters) showcases greater care than Icarus. Alternatively, Vauthry himself, who, once caught, is presented as angelic in his transformed state as ‘Innocence’, is more akin to the fallen Icarus in terms of imagery. Vauthry’s angel wings and Chai-Nuzz’s Daedalus Stoneworks company, while eventually at odds with each other in allegiance, complete the picture all the same.


With this lens, it could be argued that Vauthry is a composite character which combines various loose strands
of Cretan myths (King Minos, the Minotaur, and Icarus).

Left, Vauthry on his throne at Eulmore, attended by Sin Eaters made docile by the fact that he is himself part-Sin Eater.
Vauthry acts like an exalted, divine judge-king, much like King Minos
(Homer, Odyssey:19.178; Plutarch, Life of Theseus:16;
Pausanias, Description of Greece:3.2.4)
In some Greek traditions, the Cretan king—sometimes his brothers—later became a judge in the
Greek underworld and determined the ultimate destination of the souls of the deceased:
just souls went to the ‘Isles of the Blessed’ and unjust souls to Tartarus
(Homer, Odyssey:11.567-571; Pindar, Olympian Ode:2.55-77;
Plato, Gorgias:524a, Minos:318d-321d, Apology:41a; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library:3.1.2)

Kholusia’s tyrant ultimately decides who should be let into his ‘city of final pleasures’,
who should be (literally) thrown out, and who is ready to ‘ascend’ (becoming monstrous Sin Eaters).

Right, Vauthry under the transformed guise of ‘Innocence’ after falling to the player party in battle.
As ‘Icarus’ Vauthry is, temporarily, a more sympathetic character.

Talos Beyond Crete

As for there being Talos of distinct varieties in different regions in Shadowbringers, we could examine the citations of Simonides’ lost work relating to the mythical Talos being at Sardinia (it must be acknowledged, however, that interpretations are divided over the precise phrasing and early antiquarians may have introduced the Sardinian element at a later time). Here, if rendered accurately, the local Sardinians refuse to hand Talos over to King Minos (who has arrived from Crete). Consequently, Talos jumps into a fire, heats himself up, then hugs the Sardinians, burning them (Simonides, Fragment:204 [Edmonds] via Zenobius, Proverbs:1.155; Photius, Lexicon:500.24; Suidas:s.v. Sardanios gelôs).

One ancient tradition imagined the craftsman Daedalus (after flying away from Crete) contributing to the establishment of a Greek colony on Sardinia by producing wondrous works, which continued to be named after him in his honour (Diodorus Siculus, Library:4.30.1; Pausanias, Description of Greece:10.17.4). Some scholars speculate that Daedalus’ presence at Sardinia in myth could reflect an attempt to explain the earlier artistic developments of the ancient Sardinian Nugaric civilisation (a mysterious, non-literate culture which reached back to the Late Bronze Age, about whom the Greeks knew nothing about); so excellently crafted were their creations perceived to be by amazed Greek visitors in antiquity. In recent years some scholars have mused—notable amongst them being Adrienne Mayor in her book Gods and Robots (2018)that Greeks encountering Nugaric marvels such as the giant stone statues of Mont’e Prama (11th-8th centuries BC) may have been inspired to link them with Talos. While a certain connection to Crete’s guardian may be wishful thinking, and any suggested resemblances shared between the vacant-looking Mont’e Prama statues and robots purely coincidental, it has been enough to stir the imagination of modern onlookers into comparing them, and Talos, with the robots of science fiction. It is, incidentally, a countenance approximately shared with the Talos of Shadowbringers.


Left, one of approximately forty stone statues from Mont’e Prama on the west coast of Sardinia.
Some have suggested that these 6-8 foot tall Nuragic giants were imagined to have
served as guardians (like Talos), but their precise function is debated.
Image by DedaloNur.

Being highly stylised, artistic representations of the human form, they are, of course, popular with ‘
Ancient Aliens
theorists and those who seek evidence of ultra-advanced technology within ancient societies.
Without giving in to that temptation, Adrienne Mayor notes that the stone figures are
vaguely robot-like with their concentric circle eyes and T-shaped brows.
They might suit our concepts of robot but it is worth highlighting that Talos is only ever represented
as human in appearance on ancient vases, lacking any resemblance to this form.

Similar concentric eyes are seen in the Kholusia group of Talos from Shadowbringers (top-right),
and the T-shaped brows and noses are also present in both of the major groups of Talos in the game.
It would be very surprising if Square Enix had been directly influenced by this obscure idea,
but it nevertheless suits that the Talos of the First are mostly constructed from stone rather than bronze.

Therefore, the idea of Talos being in two separate locations has some loose basis in the mythology (and its reception), however obscure, despite Talos being predominantly tied to Crete. As explained, the Daedalus Stoneworks of Shadowbringers did not only operate in Kholusia in the past, but they supervised mining projects in Amh Araeng too. In fact, just as Talos was collected by King Minos from Sardinia and moved to Crete, the Talos of Amh Araeng were constructed and operated by Mystel craftsmen before the Daedalus Stoneworks disbanded and all but a handful of Mystel retreated to Eulmore on Kholusia.

Talos' Inherited Legacy

The most plot-relevant Talos in the Final Fantasy franchise is without a doubt the Talos of Final Fantasy XIV, but they are not alone. Final Fantasy XI had already introduced the Talos as a subspecies of the ‘Doll’ class of enemies. Here, Talos are bronze, as in mythology, contrasting with their stony brethren in Final Fantasy XIV.


Talos as a bronze automaton in Final Fantasy XI. Dolls are creations of
the Zilart, an ancient civilisation in Vana’diel lore.
Image from FFWiki.

Likewise, in the spin-off mobile game Final Fantasy Dimensions, Talos forms part of a wider group of sculpture-inspired monsters. This Talos shares the same sprite format with other ancient Greek figures associated with statues or technology: Daedalus [as Daidalos], Prometheus, and Rhodos (which is likely named after the historical Colossus of Rhodes, but is mistranslated in English as Lodoth). With sculpted representations of a helmet and a chiton/tunic, this Talos sports a Grecian aesthetic. The colour scheme for Talos here is the colour of aged bronze (when the copper within bronze oxidises, it creates a patina which turns green-blue, hence New York’s Statue of Liberty’s present hue). This, if deliberate, could suggest that Talos has, like his mythical counterpart, been around for a while. That he is located near Harmonia, a labour camp of sorts (befitting a ‘robotic’ Talos), which is also a name drawn from Greek mythology, increases his mythical potency. Of the mythical figures named Harmonia, one is the Greek goddess of harmony and another is a nymph mentioned in The Argonautica—a key source for the Talos myth (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica:2.990).


The colour scheme of this Talos could be a coincidence but, crafted by intent or
by happy accident, it serves well. Image from
Other enemies in this grouping also have appropriate palettes.

Prometheus is a fiery red-brown, befitting the Titan’s role in creating mankind out of clay and stealing fire.

Daidalos’ purple colouration is unclear, but the Final Fantasy franchise has prior history of colouring
characters from Cretan myths purple (the
minotaur summon Brothers, for example).
Daedalus was also Athenian in origin, and a popular poetic epithet for Athens was ‘violet-crowned’

(Pindar, Fragment:76; Aristophanes, Knights:1323-1329, Acharnians:637).

Rhodos/Lodoth is golden, unlike the bronze Colossus of Rhodes, but the historical
statue represented the sun god Helios and this befits the deity’s golden radiance.

The monster Helios himself is the potential outlier for this group of statues,
but only because he is not explicitly tied to statuary.
Being Helios, he might be a double for the Colossus of Rhodes,
and his dark blue colouration may relate to the giant statue
at a different stage of the oxidisation process.

That the Talos of mythology was sometimes imagined as a rare, surviving remnant from the ‘bronze race’ generation can be compared with the Talos in Final Fantasy XIV. At the outset of Shadowbringers, these Talos had gone out of use as the mostly despondent inhabitants of the First had given up on them. They are able to be revived by the protagonists (which we might compare with Hesiod’s ‘Age of Heroes’) and the Talos become a symbol of hope for the First’s population, renewing their spirits and making Talos restoration a task in which they can work together and focus their efforts. As such, these Talos enable a more positive conclusion than the slain Talos of myth.


A reactivated Talos operating the enormous lift which ferries people up and down
the sheer cliffs of Kholusia. The future of the peoples of the First is optimistic once more,
thanks to the replenished labour of the obedient Talos machines.

Being seemingly incapable of disobeying commands,
it is unclear if the same can truly be said for the Talos themselves…

Winding Down

Talos is a fairly enigmatic, obscure figure in Greek mythology, with many of the earliest references to him only surviving via testimonia from later sources, requiring a degree of caution. Nevertheless, several popular modern conceptions of this ambiguous character are expressed by Square Enix.

Although Final Fantasy XIV’s Talos are plural rather than a single, specific character, and while presented as stone golems rather than a bronze man, they do connect with the source myths in other ways. Their association with Daedalus appears deliberate, and the split kinds of Talos at different locations offer fascinating points of contact with ancient literature. While Final Fantasy’s reception of Alexander employed the Japanese popular culture ‘mecha’ trope to full effect (although incompatible with his namesake), the idea of Talos being a robot is firmly grounded in the figure’s modern reception—and yet Square Enix have been strangely conservative with it, preferring imperfect, but more grounded, batches of automata.


What do you think about Final Fantasy's Talos? Discuss in the comments!

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Malikah's Well missed an opportunity to have its Talos boss encounter literally set itself alight and force a hug on all party members. :lew:

Incredible read and insight as ever! I admittedly had scarcely ever heard of Talos, so it's been an absolute pleasure to read all about the lore and your takes on how you think Square Enix integrated the high concept into the setting.

It's interesting you discuss Daedalus and Icarus, because I did at one point consider Vauthry's literal ascension to something akin to Icarus albeit perverted. Vauthry already considers himself an ascended figure by virtue of the circumstances of his birth and his latent abilities, literally develops wings and takes to the lofty heavens by pulling up an entire mountain peak with him. Who better to rend Vauthry down from from the literal and figurative heavens than the very sun itself, aka the Warrior of Light, who at that point had suffused and amassed enough light aspected Aether to virtually dwarf every other existing Sin Eater.

That and the Warrior of Light's unsundered self, Azem, arguably became legend throughout the shards - including in the Azim Steppe where Azim (which sounds very much like Azem, as characters have also made a point to note) is characterised as the seat of the sun.
Malikah's Well missed an opportunity to have its Talos boss encounter literally set itself alight and force a hug on all party members. :lew:

Incredible read and insight as ever! I admittedly had scarcely ever heard of Talos, so it's been an absolute pleasure to read all about the lore and your takes on how you think Square Enix integrated the high concept into the setting.

It's interesting you discuss Daedalus and Icarus, because I did at one point consider Vauthry's literal ascension to something akin to Icarus albeit perverted. Vauthry already considers himself an ascended figure by virtue of the circumstances of his birth and his latent abilities, literally develops wings and takes to the lofty heavens by pulling up an entire mountain peak with him. Who better to rend Vauthry down from from the literal and figurative heavens than the very sun itself, aka the Warrior of Light, who at that point had suffused and amassed enough light aspected Aether to virtually dwarf every other existing Sin Eater.

That and the Warrior of Light's unsundered self, Azem, arguably became legend throughout the shards - including in the Azim Steppe where Azim (which sounds very much like Azem, as characters have also made a point to note) is characterised as the seat of the sun.

Late replying to this but I needed to grab some screenshots!

Thanks for the kind words!

I definitely agree that the lack of hot death hugs is a missed opportunity! When bosses pick players up and trap them it makes the battles more interesting, in my opinion. I guess they wrote themselves into a hole (pun intended) by calling it an Amphibious Talos (or 'Hydrotalos' in Japanese). Still, they could have kept that intact at the same time as letting him hug people. Heated water which scolds the party could have remained appropriate, which is essentially what the geyser attack does instead.

I love your idea about Azem / WoL representing the sun in the Icarus story. To this we could also consider Talos himself being the sun too (according to some interpretations, see the caption for the Sungold Talos image). So the fact that Talos are being used by the WoL to help reach/defeat Vauthry complements this further.

Even without the solar associations, the story of Icarus is about hubris and not listening to sage advice, as Icarus presumes that he knows better. Hubris (and the inevitable fall which follows) is a common and critical theme throughout ancient Greek literature (in both mythology and historical writing). Vauthry encapsulates hubris to the point of becoming a grotesque caricature.

Not only does Vauthry not listen to reason, but he is also the worst kind of tyrant. Self-serving, living in excess, not caring for his subjects and expecting to be revered as a god. Ancient Greek tyrants are repeatedly depicted ignoring advice too.

I must acknowledge that the ancient Greek concept of tyranny didn’t necessarily mean the same as it does today, but there was overlap. It initially was a neutral term and simply meant a ruler who seized power, but that could have been with popular support or the support of a powerful faction. Often the rules of tyrants were justified by some claim of divine ancestry, and were essentially cults of personality. Many tyrants were just and fair and people loved them. But especially by the 5th century BC, in Greek (mostly Athenian, pro-democracy) literature many historical tyrants eventually came to be associated with overreaching hubris (in particular), and some of them sided with Persia when they were exiled and worked against Greece in the Persian wars, and so on.

Vauthry’s father, and Vauthry himself, were supposed to be, officially, the ‘mayor’ of Eulmore, but they essentially seized control outside of that title to become absolute rulers. They seized power by claiming a sort of divine right to rule because of Vauthry’s ability to tame Sin Eaters. Historical tyrants were a bit more populist and relied on generating support from non-aristocrats than Vauthry does, but he does, however, ‘charitably’ dole out meol out of ‘the goodness of his heart’ and entices them all with slim chances of entering Eulmore proper. Essentially making a performance of being generous, and his people do lap that up.

Vauthry’s god complex has (less extreme) historical precedents too. According to Herodotus, when the Athenian tyrant Peisistratos had lost support, his followers dressed a tall woman up as the goddess Athena and had her drive Peisistratos back to Athens so that its citizens would believe that Athena herself had selected Peisistratos to rule them, and that he was superior to other men (Herodotus, Histories:1.60.4-5).

Tyrants (or other figures who held power) who acted hubristically experienced their downfalls either through obscurity in exile, or through tragic deaths which should have been avoidable had the individual just listened to the warnings of their peers (or were unavoidable and predetermined by the gods, it is all the same result). With Vauthry’s backstory explained, and how Emet-Selch had predetermined his fate by essentially making him who he is, he is also a tragic figure who really didn't have much of a shot at being anything other than a monster even if he was to be stripped of all of his personal flaws.

Pretty sure some of this is at least partially intentional too. Shadowbringers is fairly classics-heavy in general (moreso than FFXIV’s previous expansions). It includes a lot of Greek mythology (I mean, Hades, for one), and even quite a bit of philosophical inheritance (most Lightwardens being named after the different types of love, Cardinal Virtues being named after those virtues of Plato, and so on).

Add to this the fact that classical-style architecture, objects (tripod cauldrons, amphorae, etc) and artistic motifs, through a garish baroque filter, forms the basis of Eulmore's aesthetics.
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And then let us not forget Mt Gulg. It has classical-inspired architecture (columns, tympanums, etc). It also has classical style statues which all look pristine and holy at first glance, but when you examine them you notice that they represent Hellish scenes of torture, with emaciated bodies. Just like Vauthry presenting the image of being a pure, incorruptible god but inside he is a monster both literally and in personality.

Polyphemos Bromios 23_09_2021 23_29_15.jpg
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So yeah, Vauthry is a hubristic man who suffered his inevitable fall from grace, looking ridiculous and making an idiot of himself as he did so.

Good job we, the Sun, were there to 'melt his wax'. :thehead: