After my last post, about the two-headed dragon in the movie Willow, I’m inspired to step back a millenium or two and spotlight another multi-headed horror, the Lernaean Hydra.
Hydra was born into a star-studded monster clan. Her parents were Typhon (a hideous deity imprisoned beneath Mt. Aetna by Zeus) and Echidna (a drakaina, or beautiful nymph with the tail of a serpent). Cerberus, Chimera, and Ladon (the dragon who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides) were her siblings.
Legend describes Hydra as a gigantic water snake. Her most famous feature, of course, was that she had several heads. Accounts vary wildly, but nine heads is the number most commonly given. If that wasn’t bad enough, when one head was cut off, two more would grow in its place. And that’s not all! (chanelling Billy Mays here) Hydra was so poisonous that if her breath didn’t kill you, a stray drop of her blood would finish the job. Even stepping into her footprint could be fatal.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more impressed with this dragon all the time. No wonder she’s so famous!
Oddly enough, like her brother, Cerberus, Hydra was also a guardian beast. An entrance to the Underworld was located beneath Lake Lerna, and Hydra was its guardian. She mostly stayed at her post, but occasionally did emerge to terrorize the countryside.
Hydra’s legend is part of a much longer myth cycle, the Twelve Labors of Hercules. I’ll tell her tale in my next blog post.