The Golem wiki last edited by Mento on 07/13/15 10:23AM
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A Snippet of Golem MythosThe first appearance of a ''golem'' was in an epic poem of the Hellenistic period. Talos -the name of the creature- was a gigantic creature in the shape of a warrior, created by the Greek god of blacksmithing Hephaestus to guard the island of Crete from pirates. Talos consisted entirely of metallic parts.
The main difference with the Greek and the Jewish version of the golem is that in Jewish mythology its creation has certain supernatural elements to it (prayers, rituals, etc..) while in the Greek version its a completely mechanic creature.
The legend of the Golem comes from Jewish mythology, and the word translates into 'fool', 'dumb', or an incomplete substance. Religious texts suggest that Adam himself was a Golem, as God is said to have built him from mud and breathed life into him. Certain holy men were said to gain some of God's power, and were thus able to create their own life- though it would never truly be complete, and would lack the ability to speak.
Activating a Golem, according to Hebrew mythology, could be achieved in two ways. First, there was an ecstatic experience, a ritual of sorts, that was said to get the Golem working. Barring the time, energy, or lack of shame to do that, it would also work to simply carve a few chosen words onto the creature. To kill the one, the removal of a certain letter in the Hebrew word for 'truth' was all it took, as the word then became 'death'. There's also a few legends mentioning a scroll placed in the Golem's mouth to activate it, and removed to destroy it.
The most famous legend of the Golem takes place in Prague. The Jews of the area were set to be killed/expelled (depending on the version of the story), so the Rabbi constructed a Golem to protect them. As it grew, however, it became much more violent, spreading fear and killing indiscriminately. The emperor begged them to get rid of the Golem, which they did. The Jews stored its body away, not fully destroying it as a warning that they could activate it if needed once more. The body is said to still be in the attic of the Synagogue, and a more modern legend says a Nazi went and tried to stab it. He died instead. The legend and the disobeying nature of the Golem carries the theme of hubris.
A lot of later works carry similar themes and ideas, such as Frankenstein and certain stories about robots.
In videogames, however, Golems tend to be big clay/rock monsters that stumble around and deal a lot of damage. They talk, aren't tied to any religion, and are really just trying to eke out a normal, healthy existence before YOU came along.