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Hydra

The giant water snake with many heads

The Hydra (aka Lernaean Hydra) was an ancient serpent-like water beast with reptilian traits that possessed many heads — the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint, and for each head cut off it grew two more.

It also had poisonous breath and blood so virulent even its tracks were deadly.

Hydra is an ancient Greek mythical beast that was mentioned in the tale of the twelve labors of Hercules (also called Heracles). The hydra has many heads (possibly 7, 8 or 9), the number of head varies from different versions of the legend, however, more accounts agree on nine. It was said that the middle one was immortal and it has very poisonous venom and breath.

If the heads are cut off, the heads would grow back. One head cut-off would result to two heads growing back in its place.

The Hydra was believed to have lived in the Lernean marsh which is located near Argolis, the region around Argos, Greece. Others say that the Hydra lived in Cave in the Swamp of Lerna.

The serpent-woman Echidna and the hundred headed Typhon are the Hydra's parents. His siblings include the Nemean lion, Cerberus, Chimera and Ladon.

The Hydra guards the entrance to the Underworld and from the murky swamps of the Lake of Lerna the monstrous serpent would rise and terrorize the city. The Hydra was finally killed by Hercules during his second labor.

The Hydra was said to have the body of a dragon/snake with many heads (possibly 7, 8 or 9), two arms and legs with knife-like claws, sharp spines/spikes and a long serpent tail.

Killing the Hydra: The Second Labor of Hercules

Accompanied with his trusty nephew, Iolaus, Hercules set off to hunt the nine-headed monster. They went to the springs of Amymone and discovered the lair of the menacing beast.

Hercules lured the creature out of its den by shooting it with flaming arrows. When the beastly creature emerged, the Greek mythical hero seized it but the monster wound one of its coils to Hercules' foot.

With one of his foot stuck, Hercules tried to break free by smashing the monster's head, but as soon as he cut one, two more heads would appear on its place. And a huge crab began biting Hercules' trapped foot to add nuisance. After smashing the crab with his club, Hercules called on to his nephew, Iolaus to help him out in fighting the looming monster.

Hercules persisted on slashing the monster's head while Iolaus scorched each headless neck with a torch to prevent heads from growing back. Finally, the Hydra was slain as Heracles's second task was done.

After the Hydra was defeated, Heracles soaked the tip of his arrows in its venomous blood.

[1]

Sources

[1] "Mythical Creatures Guide"




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