Thursday, May 31, 2007


hydra 12In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra (Greek: Λερναία Ὕδρα) was an ancient nameless serpent-like chthonic water beast that possessed numerous heads— the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint— and poisonous breath (Hyginus, 30). The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as one of his Twelve Labours. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, though archaeology has borne out the myth that the sacred site was older even than the Mycenaean city of Argos, for Lerna was the site of the myth of the Danaids. Beneath the waters was an entrance to the Underworld, and the Hydra was its guardian.

The Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna (Theogony, 313), noisome offspring of the earth goddess, Gaia. It was said to be the sibling of the Nemean Lion, the Chimaera and Cerberus. It is generally considered to be a female, such as in the recent 'Myth-O-Mania' books where it is a human-headed monster with flippers for feet.


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