Hydra Of Lerne, Monster With Snake Heads From Greek Mythology

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Hydra Of Lerne, Monster With Snake Heads From Greek Mythology

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A terrible monster with several heads, the Hydra of Lerne was confronted by Heracles for his second work.

If hydra are recurrent creatures in fantasy, their origin comes from Greek mythology and more precisely from the Hydra of Lerne.

Daughter of Thyphon and Echidna, he was a monster whose descriptions vary. While the oldest stories give it a dog's body and a hundred heads, the most modern describe it as we imagine it most. Be equipped with a dragon body and five or nine heads. One of the heads is the intelligent one who directs the body and the other heads, but who is also immortal. Its terrible mouths, whose breath is poisoned, instantly kill anyone who breathes it, even when it sleeps. One of the particularities that makes it more formidable than it already is is that when one of its heads is cut off, two others grow back instead.


After his birth, the goddess Hera decided to raise him. To do this, she placed it under a plane tree at Lake Lerne, which gave it its name. She ruled terror there for years, devastating cattle and crops until Heracles came to fight her in her second job. To defeat her, he lured her out of her lair with flaming arrows. Hera, hating Heracles and not enjoying seeing him attack the hydra, sent a crab to distract him. But Heracles crushed him and resumed the fight. Hera made this crab the constellation of Cancer.


The battle was terrible and thanks to the skin of Nemea Heracles' lion was protected from the creature's bites. However, it was quickly overtaken by the ever-increasing number of heads each time it cut one. He called his nephew Iolaos to set the trees in the battle zone on fire. Every time Heracles cut off a head, Iolaos cauterized it with fire so that it would no longer grow back.


In the end, only the immortal head remained, which Heracles cut off and buried. With the blood of the hydra, he made a poison. It is said in some versions that Eurystheus, who had commissioned this work from Heracles, refused to grant him the success of it because he had not done it alone.


  • Cinema: Jason and the Argonauts (D. Chaffey)
  • Role-playing games: Dungeons and Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)
  • Board games: Warhammer (Games Workshop)
  • Video games : Diablo III (Blizzard)
  • Painting: Hercules and the Hydra of Lerne (G. Moreau)

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