Other names: Hydra Origin: Greece Habitat: Lerna lake Type: Mythological reptile
The Lernaean Hydra was an ancient serpent-like chthonic water beast, with reptilian traits (as its name evinces), that possessed many heads — the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint, and for each head cut off it grew two more — and poisonous breath and blood so virulent even its tracks were deadly. The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Hercules as the second 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 since 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.
The Hydra was living at Lerna at the time of its death. It terrorized with place quite often, and Heracles was sent to kill it on one of his impossible labors, this one being his second labor. He was sent to the Lernian swamp where it resided to kill it. When he entered, he killed three heads with his club, but found that two more grew back each time one was killed. A crab scuttled in as Heracles' feet were wrapped by two heads, and nipped Heracles on his foot. Heracles yelped, and his cousin Iolaus heard him and came running. Heracles escaped, and drew his sword. He chopped off two heads, and Iolaus burned the stumps of the heads, stopping the poison bloodflow, causing its heads to stop returning. This continued until all but one head was gone. Heracles picked up a large boulder, and smashed this head. He then cut it off and burned this one himself, with a torch. This was the Hydra's immortal head, and killed him permenantly.
The Hydra's most potent ability is the power to regrow any head that is cut off, with twice as many in its place. It is also said to be extremely venomous, killing someone with a single scent of its breath. It could also spit fire and acid.