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ancient automata
15th–17th Century
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History of automata


automata in mythology


Mythology has many stories about automata.
Prometheus was reputed to have made the first man and woman on earth, with clay animated by fire stolen from heaven.
Hephaestus, God of all mechanical arts, also known by the Romans as Vulcan, God of life, was reputed to have made two female statues of pure gold which assisted him and accompanied him wherever he went. Hephaestus was also accredited with making Talus, a giant made from brass, who guarded Crete against intruders. Talus dispensed of his victims by heating up his body and hugging them to death. His only vulnerable spot was his right ankle, where there was a sinew of flesh and a vein of blood. The Argonauts could only land on Crete after Talus was destroyed through the intervention of Medea.
Pygmalion, a sculptor of Cyprus, fell in love with a beautiful statue which he had made. He married her after Aphrodite brought her to life.
• Daedalus, considered the inventor of carpentry, was a prolific and very clever inventor of ancient times accredited with the axe, the level and numerous other mechanical devices. He was reputed to have made statues that were worked by quicksilver and had the ability to walk.
Solomon used his wisdom to design a throne with mechanical animals which hailed him as king when he ascended it; upon sitting down an eagle would place a crown upon his head, and a dove would bring him a Torah scroll.


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