Also known as the Lernaean Hydra.
Said to lurk in swamps and other such watery realms, the Hydra was a grotesque creature, the offspring of Typhon (or Typhoeus) and Echidna, with at least seven independent heads (the numbers vary from 7 to 100) — the center one of which was immortal — and an alarming ability to grow more.
According to legend, for every head that was lopped off by an adversary, the Hydra grew two in its place.
The breath of the Hydra poisoned the waters and turned the fields brown. It haunted the marshes of Lerna near Argos.
Greek mythology documents a nine-headed Hydra, a guardian creature that defended the golden apples of the Hesperides. This hideous beast was finally destroyed by Hercules, with the help of his nephew, Iolaus. Every time Heracles would cut off one head of the beast, Ioalus would sear its injured neck using a torch, preventing new heads from growing back. During their fight, an enormous crab emerged from the swamp to aid the Hydra. Heracles killed the crab by crushing its shell with his foot... Hercules then buried the immortal head under a rock, and dipped the heads of his arrows in the venomous blood of the Hydra.
The ancient Greeks probably got their inspiration for the mythical Hydra from the octopus, which can regenerate lost tentacles. Possibly related to the hydra is the many-headed Naga and the seven-headed Dragon.
See Champ, Cryptid, Cryptozoology, Dragon, Loch Ness Monster, Giant Squid, Leviathan, Mokele-Mbembe, Sea Serpent, Sea-Wolf, White River Monster, Mythical Monsters, Kraken, Hydra and Kraken, Or, the Lore and Lure of Lake-Monsters and Sea-Serpents, The Age of Fable, The Hydra (Monsters of Mythology).
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Sources: (1) Cooper, J.C. (Editor), Brewer's Book of Myth and Legend, Cassell Academic Publishing; (2) Evans, Bergen, Dictionary of Mythology, Dell Publishing Co., Inc.; (3) Dixon-Kennedy, Mike, Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology, ABC-Clio Inc. Publishers; (4) Ayto, John, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Collins Reference Publishing.
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