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Encyclopedia > Lernaean Hydra
The 16th-century German illustrator has been influenced by the Beast of Revelation in his depiction of the Hydra.
The 16th-century German illustrator has been influenced by the Beast of Revelation in his depiction of the Hydra.

In 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 Hercules 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 (Kerenyi 1959, p. 143). Download high resolution version (1200x1602, 278 KB)Antique depiction of a hydra. ... Download high resolution version (1200x1602, 278 KB)Antique depiction of a hydra. ... The Number of the Beast is mentioned in the Book of Revelation of the Christian New Testament and has long been accepted to be 666. ... The bust of Zeus found at Otricoli (Sala Rotonda, Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican) Greek mythology is the body of stories belonging to the Ancient Greeks concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. ... For other uses, see Serpent (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Chthon (disambiguation). ... Heracles and the Lernaean Hydra by Gustave Moreau: The Hydra is perhaps the best known mythological multi-headed animal, also popularised in many fantasy settings. ... Gaius Julius Hyginus, (c. ... For other uses, see Hercules (disambiguation). ... Hercules and the Hydra by Antonio Pollaiuolo The Twelve Labours (Greek: dodekathlos) of Heracles (Latin: Hercules) are a series of archaic episodes connected by a later continuous narrative, concerning a penance carried out by Heracles, the greatest of the Greek heroes. ... For the municipality, see Myloi (Argolida), Greece, the seat of the municipality of Lerna In classical Greece, Lerna was a region of springs and a former lake near the east coast of the Peloponnesus, south of Argos. ... Argos (Greek: Άργος, Árgos) is a city in Greece in the Peloponnesus near Nafplio, which was its historic harbor, named for Nauplius. ... This article is about the city in Greece. ... Danaus, or Danaos (sleeper) was a Greek mythological character, twin of Aegyptus and son of Belus, a mythic king of Egypt. ... For other uses, see Underworld (disambiguation). ...


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. Zeus darting his lightning at Typhon, Chalcidian black-figured hydria, ca. ... In the most ancient layers of Greek mythology Echidna (ekhis, meaning she viper) was called the Mother of All Monsters. Echidna was described by Hesiod as a female monster spawned in a cave, who mothered with her mate Typhoeus (or Typhon) every major monster in the Greek myths, (Theogony, 295... Theogony (Greek: Θεογονία, theogonia = the birth of God(s)) is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC. The title of the work comes from the Greek words for god and seed. // Hesiods Theogony is a large-scale... Look up Gaia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Nemean Lion (Latin: Leo Nemaeus) was a vicious monster in Greek mythology that lived in Nemea. ... For other uses, see Chimera. ... Heracles and threatened Cerberus, Attic black-figure neck-amphora, ca. ...

Contents

The second labour of Hercules

Herakles und die Hydra (c. 1475) by Antonio Pollaiuolo (Galleria degli Uffizi)
Herakles und die Hydra (c. 1475) by Antonio Pollaiuolo (Galleria degli Uffizi)

Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Hercules covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes and fired flaming arrows into its lair, the spring of Amymone, to draw it out. He then confronted it, wielding a harvesting sickle in some early vase-paintings; Ruck and Staples (p. 170) have pointed out that the chthonic creature's reaction was botanical: upon cutting off each of its heads he found that two grew back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero, Hercules. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 427 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1576 × 2212 pixel, file size: 449 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Lernaean Hydra ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 427 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1576 × 2212 pixel, file size: 449 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Lernaean Hydra ... Look up Circa on Wiktionary, the free dictionary The Latin word circa, literally meaning about, is often used to describe various dates (often birth and death dates) that are uncertain. ... Apollo and Daphne by Antonio Pollaiuolo Antonio di Jacopo Pollaiuolo (c. ... The narrow courtyard between the Uffizis two wings creates the effect of a short, idealized street. ... For the municipality, see Myloi (Argolida), Greece, the seat of the municipality of Lerna In classical Greece, Lerna was a region of springs and a former lake near the east coast of the Peloponnesus, south of Argos. ... In Greek mythology, Amymone (the blameless one) was a daughter of Danaus. ... Using a sickle A sickle is a curved, hand-held agricultural tool typically used for harvesting grain crops before the advent of modern harvesting machinery. ... For other uses, see Hero (disambiguation). ...


The details of the confrontation are explicit in Apollodorus (2.5.2): realising that he could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Hercules called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a burning firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after decapitation, and handed him the blazing brand. Hercules cut off each head and Iolaus burned the open stump leaving the hydra dead; its one immortal head Hercules placed under a great rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius (Kerenyi1959 p 144), and dipped his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood, and so his second task was complete. The alternative to this is that after cutting off one head he dipped his sword in it and used its venom to burn each head so it couldn't grow back. Apollodorus was a common name in ancient Greece. ... In Greek mythology, Iolaus (Greek: ΄Ιόλαος) was a son of Iphicles and thus a nephew of Heracles. ... For other uses, see Athena (disambiguation). ...


Hercules later used an arrow dipped in the Hydra's poisonous blood to kill the centaur Nessus; and Nessus's tainted blood applied to the Tunic of Nessus. Guido Reni, Abduction of Deianira, 1620-21, Louvre Museum. ... The Shirt of Nessus, Tunic of Nessus, Nessus-robe, or Nessus shirt is the shirt (chiton) daubed with the tainted blood of the centaur Nessus that Deianeira, Hercules wife, naïvely gave Hercules, burning him, and driving him to throw himself onto a funeral pyre. ...


Iolaus

Image:Sam being huge and killing a beast.jpg
Hans Sebald Beham: Hercules slaying the Hydra, 1545 print

When Eurystheus, the agent of ancient Hera who was assigning to Hercules The Twelve Labours, found out that it was Hercules' nephew who had handed him the firebrand, he declared that the labour had not been completed alone and as a result did not count towards the ten labours set for him. The mythic element is an equivocating attempt to resolve the submerged conflict between an ancient ten Labours and a more recent twelve. Adam and Eve, 1543, 82 x 56 mm. ... Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Eurystheus hiding in a jar as Herakles brings him the Erymanthian boar. ... For other uses, see Hera (disambiguation). ... Hercules and the Hydra by Antonio Pollaiuolo The Twelve Labours (Greek: dodekathlos) of Heracles (Latin: Hercules) are a series of archaic episodes connected by a later continuous narrative, concerning a penance carried out by Heracles, the greatest of the Greek heroes. ...


Constellation

Mythographers relate that the Lernaean Hydra and the crab were put into the sky after Hercules slew them. In an alternative version, Hera's crab was at the site to bite his feet and bother him, hoping to cause his death. Hera set it in the Zodiac to follow the Lion (Eratosthenes, Catasterismi) When the sun is in the sign of Cancer, the constellation Hydra has its head nearby. Also close by, beneath the sun, is the constellation of Cancer, the crab. For other uses, see Hera (disambiguation). ... The term zodiac denotes an annual cycle of twelve stations along the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun across the heavens through the constellations that divide the ecliptic into twelve equal zones of celestial longitude. ... Leo (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is a constellation of the zodiac. ... This article is about the Greek scholar of the third century BC. For the ancient Athenian statesman of the fifth century BC, see Eratosthenes (statesman). ... Cancer (IPA: , Latin: , symbol , ) is one of the thirteen constellations of the zodiac. ... Hydra (IPA: ) is the largest of the 88 modern constellations, and was also one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy. ...


Sources

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Lernaean Hydra

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Jane Ellen Harrison (September 9, 1850–April 5, 1928) was a ground-breaking English classical scholar and feminist. ... Robert von Ranke Graves (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985) was an English poet, scholar, and novelist. ... One of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology, Karl (Carl, Károly) Kerényi (January 19, 1897 _ April 14, 1973) was born in Hungary but became a citizen of Switzerland in 1943. ... Walter Burkert (born Neuendettelsau (Bavaria), February 2, 1931), the most eminent living scholar of Greek myth and cult, is an emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland who has also taught in the United Kingdom and the United States. ... Carl A. P. Ruck is a professor in the Classical Studies department at Boston University. ... (Blaise) Daniel Danny Staples (13 July 1948 — December 2005[1]) was a Classical mythologist; a native of Somerset, Massachusetts, he received a B.A. in Comparative Religion and a Ph. ...

External links

  • Statue of the Hydra battling Hercules at the Louvre


  Results from FactBites:
 
Hydra (Legend) - LoveToKnow 1911 (280 words)
HYDRA (watersnake), in Greek legend, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, a gigantic monster with nine heads (the number is variously given), the centre one being immortal.
The destruction of this Lernaean hydra was one of the twelve "labours" of Heracles, which he accomplished with the assistance of Iolaus.
The generally accepted interpretation of the legend is that "the hydra denotes the damp, swampy ground of Lerna with its numerous springs (Ke4aXal, heads); its poison the miasmic vapours rising from the stagnant water; its death at the hands of Heracles the introduction of the culture and consequent purification of the soil" (Preller).
Hydra (303 words)
Hydra (the sea monster) is the largest of the 88 modern constellations, and was also one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy.
Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands[?] in Greece.
Hydra is the name of a genus of simple fresh-water polyp, of the class Hydrozoa[?].
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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