Last Update: 28 Mar 2021
2. Labor: The Lernaean Hydra
The labour of the Lernaean Hydra was Heracles' second mission and challenge
The Lernaean Hydra was an aquatic creature with nine serpentine heads and poisonous breath that lived in Lake Lerna of Argos. The Lernaic Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, and the sister of Lion Nemea, which Heracles had slain in his first work.
With the help of his nephew Iolaos, Heracles found the monster in the spring Amimoni. With an ax he began to cut off its heads, but with each attempt two new ones always came out in their place. Heracles then ordered Iolaos to light a torch and burn the flesh immediately after he cut off the monster's head. The idea of this was crowned with success, and no new ones could grow out.
When he had succeeded in cutting off the ninth head also, which was in the middle of the body and was immortal, Heracles buried it deep in the earth and placed a huge stone on top of it. Then he dipped his arrows into the gall of the Hydra, which was poisonous.
But King Evrystheas declared the work incomplete, with the excuse that Iolaos had helped Heracles.
In modern everyday language, the Greeks call "Lernean Hydra" a problem so great that - in spite of all efforts to combat it - it keeps coming back powerfully.