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Difference between revisions of "Hydra"

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Revision as of 18:34, 9 January 2006

The Hydra had the body of a serpent and many heads (the number of heads deviates from five up to one hundred there are many versions but generally nine is accepted as standard), of which one could never be harmed by any weapon, and if any of the other heads were severed another would grow in its place. Also the stench from the Hydra's breath was enough to kill man or beast. When it emerged from the swamp it would attack herds of cattle and local villagers, devouring them with its numerous heads. It totally terrorized the vicinity for many years.


Heracles journeyed to Lake Lerna in a speedy chariot, and with him he took his nephew and charioteer Iolaus, in search of the dreaded Hydra. When they finally reached the Hydras' hiding place, Heracles told Iolaus to stay with the horses while he drew the monster from its hole with flaming arrows. This brought out the hideous beast. Heracles courageously attacked the beast, flaying at each head with his sword, (in some versions a scythe) but he soon realized that as one head was severed another grew in its place. Heracles called for help from Iolaus, telling him to bring a flaming torch, and as Heracles cut off the heads one by one from the Hydra, Iolaus cauterized the open wounds with the torch preventing them from growing again. As Heracles fought the writhing monster he was almost stifled by its obnoxious breath, but eventually, with the help of Iolaus, Heracles removed all but one of the Hydras' heads. The one remaining could not be harmed by any weapon, so, picking up his hefty club Heracles crushed it with one mighty blow, he then tore off the head with his bare hands and quickly buried it deep in the ground, placing a huge boulder on the top. After he had killed the Hydra, Heracles dipped the tips of his arrows into the Hydras' blood, which was extremely poisonous, making them deadly.


A huge serpent with nine heads (although in some accounts she may have six, seven, eight or fifty heads). It lived at Lerna, in a pool formed by the Amymone spring. It is sometimes said that the hydra had the body of a dog.

African Hydra

An African Hydra is a water-monster with seven heads. It keeps the river flowing and people brought offerings to them. One day a woman asked for the Hydra's help, in return for her Jinde Sirinde. Her water jar had been filled with mud. The Hydra agreed to the deal, cleaning out her jar, and filling it with water for her. When Jinde was old enough, she was sent to the river to collect water but eventually the Hydra came to the shore and took her away to be his wife. Jinde pleaded with him to be allowed to go back. The Hydra agreed to let her go for one day to see her parents one last time but she went to the house of her lover, who took his sword and killed the Hydra by cutting off all seven heads.

Biblical Hydra

The Beast that appears in the Apocalypse is a many-headed dragon.


The Hydra was the daughter of Echidna and Typhon and the half-sister of the Nemean Lion.


It was the second of Heracles' twelve labours to kill the hydra. During the fight, everytime Heracles chopped off one of the hydra's nine heads, two more grew in its place. So Heracles asked for the help of his nephew Iolaus, who would cauterize each stump when Heracles chopped off a head, preventing the regrowth of two heads. Because the last of the heads was immortal, Heracles was forced to bury it under a large boulder. After killing the Hydra, Heracles dipped his arrows in the blood of the beast. These arrows were used to kill Geryon. However, this labour was not counted as Heracles was aided by Iolaus, The breath of the hydra is so poisonous that it could kill a man just by inhalation. The foul stench that the river of Elis, Anigrus, exudes is the smell of the decaying Hydra.

Also in Greek mythology, Jason killed a hydra to get the Golden Fleece.