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Greek Heroes » Heracles, the strongest hero of Ancient Greece » Myths about Heracles

The Lernaean Hydra

The Lernaean Hydra
Plate depicting Hercules and the Hydra by Maestro Giorgio Gubbio (inspired by Antonio Pollaiolo),1520

The labour of the Lernaean Hydra was Heracles' second mission and challenge

The Lernaean Hydra was a water beast with nine snake-like heads and poisonous breath that was living in lake Lerna of Argos. The Lernean Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna and the sister of the Lion Nemea, which Heracles had feated on his first labour.

With the help of his nephew, Iolaos, Heracles found the monster in the source Amimoni. Using an axe he began to cut its heads, but on every attempt, two new ones would always come out in their place. Heracles then told Iolaos to turn on a torch and to burn the flesh immediately, after having cut off the monster's head. The idea this was crowned with success and no new ones could grow out.

When he managed to also cut off its ninth head, which was in the middle of body and immortal, Heracles buried it deeply into the ground and put a huge stone on it. Then he dunked his arrows in the bile of Hydra, which was poisonous.

King Evrystheas, however, declared the labor as incomplete with the excuse that Iolaos had helped Heracles.

Labors of Heracles

Heracles Labors-The Lion of Nemea
The Lion of Nemea
Heracles Labors-The Lernaean Hydra
The Lernaean Hydra
Heracles Labors-The Ceryneian Hind
The Ceryneian Hind
Heracles Labors-The Erymanthian Boar
The Erymanthian Boar
Heracles Labors-The Augean Stables
The Augean Stables
Heracles Labors-The Stymphalian Birds
The Stymphalian Birds
Heracles Labors-The Cretan Bull
The Cretan Bull
Heracles Labors-The Mares of Diomedes
The Mares of Diomedes
Heracles Labors-The Girdle of Hippolyte
The Girdle of Hippolyte
Heracles Labors-The Cattle of Geryon
The Cattle of Geryon
Heracles Labors-The Apples of the Hesperides
The Apples of the Hesperides
Heracles Labors-Cerberus, the dog of the Underworld
Cerberus, the dog of the Underworld

Myths about Heracles

Heracles Myths-Heracles and Athena
Heracles and Athena
Heracles Myths-Heracles and Pluto
Heracles and Pluto
Heracles Myths-The First Feat of Heracles
The First Feat of Heracles
Heracles Myths-Heracles and the Egyptian Pharaoh
Heracles and the Egyptian Pharaoh