Hydra: All you need to know about the Greek mythological monster

Lernaean Hydra

The Lernaean Hydra was a monster in Greek mythology. It had many heads; whenever someone cut off one of them, two more heads would grow out of the stump. It was one of the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, the father and mother of all monsters, respectively. It lived in Lake Lerna in the region of Argolid in the Peloponnese.

Eurystheus, king of Tiryns, sent the demigod Heracles (Hercules) to slay the Lernaean Hydra as the second of the set of labours that the hero had to complete to redeem himself for killing his wife Megara and his children in a fit of madness.

Lernaean Hydra
Herakles and the Hydra Water Jar (Etruscan, c. 525 BC) - Herakles clubs the Hydra, while a crab assists it by attacking Herakles

When Heracles reached Lake Lerna, he had to cover his nose and mouth with a cloth to protect himself from poisonous gases that were emitted. After he managed to lure the monster out of its lair, Heracles quickly cut one of its heads off, only to realise in despair that two new heads had grown.

So, he decided to ask for the help of his nephew Iolaus, who thought of using fire to cauterise the stump as soon as the head was cut off. So, they made a plan: Heracles would cut off the heads, and Iolaus would burn the wound with a firebrand.

Lernaean Hydra

As a result, they both quickly started winning the battle. Hera, who had raised the monster specifically to kill Heracles, sent a giant crab in aid of the hydra.

The hero, though, crushed it under his giant foot. The final head of the Hydra was immortal, and Heracles managed to destroy it by using a golden sword that the goddess Athena had offered him.

Then, he dipped all of his arrows into the venomous blood of the hydra.

Lernaean Hydra

This would later be the hero's demise, as the Shirt of Nessus, which Heracles unknowingly wore, was covered in the tainted blood, causing him unbearable pain.

Hera turned both dead monsters into constellations; Hydra became the constellation of the same name, while the crab turned into the constellation Cancer.

READ MORE: The ENTIRE Story of Greek Mythology Explained.

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