ARTICLES, Fantasy Creatures, Gods/ Goddesses, Monsters

Heracles Versus the Hydra

In Greek mythology there are many legends about heroes both human and demigods creating great feats to prove themselves to the gods. One of the most well-known legends is the twelve trials of Heracles. His second task was to defeat the hydra a serpentine sea monster many people recognized by its name.

Heracles is the demigod created by Zeus the king of the gods and Alcmene, who was a mortal woman who was tricked into making love to the god Zeus. Zeus took the form of her husband Amphitryon claiming to be home early from the war. Amphitryon did return later that evening leading to Alomene to carry twins by two different fathers.

Heracles
Heracles

 

The Goddess Hera was jealous of all mortals her husband had an affair with and sought revenged on the children. Heracles ends up marrying Megera and in a fit of madness created by Hera, he slays her and his children. Horrified by his actions, Heracles goes to the Oracle of Dehpi to discover how he could repent for his crimes.

Labors of Heracles

Hera uses the oracle to direct Heracles to King Eurystheus who had become king before Heracles due to Hera making Zeus swear an oath, that the first child born would become king. Eurysthus ordered Heracles to complete ten trials of labor but ended up cheating the demigod adding two more tasks claiming that two of the original ten were not completed.

Hera
Hera

The second task of labor was to defeat the legendary hydra. Heracles approached the lair of the beast wearing a cloth over his mouth and nose to prevent breathing in the poisonous air. He shot arrows of fire into the lair to lure the monster out. Heracles started to cut the heads off only to discover this concept would not work. It was due to the idea of his nephew Iotaus, to set fire to each head stump cauterizing the wounds. Thus, allowing Heracles to behead the hydra with the golden sword gifted to him by Athena.

The Monster

The Lernaean Hydra was the offspring of the father and mother of monsters Typhon and Echidea, though there are some versions were Hera raised it from birth to attack Heracles. The hydra had nine heads with one being immortal. It was claimed to have a poisonous bite and blood leading to the very air around it to be deadly. The hydra had the ability to regrow two heads in place of its first head if it was cut off. Its lair was in the marshes of Llerna emerging to attack villagers and livestock.

hydra
hydra

Furthermore, its clear that this monster is remembered through myths due to its inability to be easily killed. The concept of the hydra that two more will replace the first, is a terms used often to describe heroes who must defeat an army on their own. The hydra is one of the most common monsters of Greek mythology being used to this day in media and video games based around the culture. There are some who still fear that a version of the hydra is still alive today. Perhaps if the beast was real there’s no doubt a hero will be in the wings waiting to slay it.

Heracles

Now. shush, I’m trying to read,
Luna

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