The Bibliotheca notes that while Talos was a bronze man, some suggest that he was instead fashioned in the shape of a bull, the Cretan animal par excellence. He was tasked with guarding the island of Crete. He did this by running around it three times each day. When he spotted the Argonauts, he started hurling rocks at their vessel. Somehow, at least some of the Argonauts managed to make landfall and a plan was concocted to rid themselves of this bothersome bronze protector.
Despite being made of metal, Talos did have a weakness: a single vein that extended from his neck to his ankles, with a bronze nail at the end of the vein closing it off. The Bibliotheca gives three different versions of how Talos met his end. He may have been driven mad by Medea, or she may have promised to make him immortal and then drew out the nail so that all of the ichor that was his lifeblood flowed out of him. Or, Pseudo-Apollodorus writes, he was simply shot in the ankle by Poeas, a friend of Heracles and one of the Argonauts.
The moment of his demise is captured in an Attic red-figure vase from Ruvo in Southern Italy. One side of the krater depicts Talos collapsing, with the horse-riding Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) grabbing hold of him as he falls. The painter has executed Talos in a different colour from the other figures, which marks him as special. The female figure at extreme left is Medea, clad in “oriental” dress. She holds an embroidered sack that presumably contains her (magic) potions. At far right, the sea-god Poseidon and his wife Amphitrite observe the scene.