Herakles & the Lernaean Hydra

Herakles & the Lernaean Hydra


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.


File:Amphora with Heracles and the Lernaean Hydra (an ancient serpent-like water monster), circa 525 BC, from Etruria (Italy), Monsters. Fantastic Creatures of Fear and Myth Exhibition, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome (12930019625).jpg

Click on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time.

Date/TimeThumbnailDimensionsUserComment
current12:16, 16 January 20154,663 × 3,264 (9.51 MB) Butko (talk | contribs) Transferred from Flickr via Flickr2Commons

You cannot overwrite this file.


Contents

The Lernaean Hydra is a gigantic, ancient nameless serpent-like chthonic nine-headed water dragon. The monster's haunt was the marshes of Lerna near Argos which was the site of the Danaids. Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld, and archaeology has established it as a sacred site older than Mycenaean Argos.

The destruction of the Lernaean Hydra was one of the 12 Labors of Heracles (or Hercules), which he accomplished with the assistance of Iolaus. It had many heads and every time someone would cut off one of them, two more heads would grow out of the stump.

There were also another Hydra, called Hydrae, that had many differences from the Lernaean Hydra.


Herakles & the Lernaean Hydra - History

John William Waterhouse, “The Danaids”

According to the Greek myth, the Danaids, fifty daughters of Danaus, were forced to marry fifty sons of Aegyptus, a ruler of Egypt. Forty-nine of them killed their husbands on the wedding night. The forty-nine heads of the men were tossed into the marshes of Lerna. As punishment, the Danaids were sent to Tartaros, were they were ordered to endlessly pour water into a leaky pitcher. At least such is the official, patriarchal version of the myth told by the Greek conquerors.

For Robert Graves and J.J. Bachofen (1) the Danaids were water priestesses, who brought the precious gift of pure water from the delta of the Nile to the dry Peloponnese in Greece. Their ancient sanctuary was raided by the Greeks, as Robert Graves tells in his Greek Myths:

“After the second successful attempt, the Hellenic leader married the Chief-priestess and distributed the water-priestesses as wives among his chieftains.”

In Graves’ view, the Danaids were not pouring water into a leaky pitcher, but they were rather performing an act of sympathetic magic by ritual sprinkling the ground with water. The Greeks seemed to have “welcomed the gift of water but rejected the Danaids.” (2)

From the heads of the forty-nine men that got thrown into the marshes, the nine-headed Hydra, a symbol of the wrathful feminine, was born with eight mortal and one immortal golden head and black bile in her veins. Destroying her was one of the twelve labours of Heracles. Hydra was so venomous that not only her breath could kill instantly but the sheer smell of her tracks was deadly. Heracles lured the monster out of its cave with flaming arrows. First he tried to use brute force and clobbered her heads, but each time one was vanquished two more sprang up. Meanwhile, the goddess Hera sent a giant crab to nip at the hero’s foot and thwart his efforts further. Heracles killed the crab, which was subsequently placed in the constellation karkinos, i.e. Cancer. Heracles decided to change the tactics and asked his nephew Iolaos, who accompanied him, to burn the surrounding woods and burn each stump left by the freshly cut off heads with a torch so that it will not grow back. This cauterization of the wound to seal it had been recommended by Athena. Thus Hydra was conquered, her body, together with the immortal head, buried under a heavy rock.

Gustave Moreau, “Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra”

In times of crisis like the current one, when we are battling the many-headed Hydra, we can choose to understand the events in multiple ways. We can see Hydra as the symbol of the wrathful feminine wronged and violated by the patriarchal idea of progress ravaging earth and its resources. In the first part of Matrix Agent Smith says these words to Morpheus:

“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.”

After killing Hydra Hercules used her black blood to dip his arrows in. The same poisonous arrow was later shot accidentally, wounding the wise centaur Chiron. The wounded healer archetype is a reminder that we are all subject to suffering endemic to flesh and blood, we are all mortal. The hydra of epidemic can also be viewed as a natural phenomenon, raising its head periodically throughout history, with no one to blame, just as a manifestation of fate. To prevail in the current crisis, when we are wounded by the arrows of misfortune, we need fierce defensive measures, not brute force. This monster that we are facing cannot be clubbed to death. It can be neutralized with wisdom, consciousness symbolized by fire and co-operation. The immortal head of Hydra is golden, which means that in the dark swamps of our transgressions there is alchemical gold to be found. But we also need the patience, kindness and wisdom of Chiron. The arrow, which is a symbol of “the inner strength and unity deriving from correct use and development of the ‘killer instinct'” as well as “the evolution of aggression and desire into wisdom” (3) was used both by Apollo, the god of the sun and Artemis, the moon goddess. The arrow is also connected with “mental, physical and spiritual focus” as well as “focused attention and spiritual maturity.” (4) A heart pierced by an arrow symbolizes suffering but also a conjunction, according to Cirlot, the author of The Dictionary of Symbols. Perhaps in times like this we can transcend our differences and dualities, not only those of gender. Perhaps a new sense of unity will be born.

Sandro Botticelli, “Pallas and the Centaur”

When I was younger one of my favourite books was Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez. There are numerous passages that I remember but I want to focus on this one describing how a character is confronted with the death of a loved one:

“Until then Dr. Juvenal Urbino and his family had conceived of death as a misfortune that befell others, other people’s fathers and mothers, other people’s brothers and sisters and husbands and wives but not theirs.”

What stayed with me from that book that I read so many years ago is the simple, immortal truth of solidarity in suffering. Paradoxically, a sense of oneness and community may arise from forced isolation and social distancing.

An image from “The Red Book”

(1) Johann Jakob Bachofen (born in 1815) was an early Swiss proponent of the prehistoric matriarchy, author of Mother Right: an investigation of the religious and juridical character of matriarchy in the Ancient World

(2) Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

(3) The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images, ARAS, ed. by Ami Ronnberg

If you appreciate my writing, consider donating and make my day. Thank you in advance.


Heracles (Hercules) and the Lernaean Hydra

The Lernaean Hydra or Hydra of Lerna more often known simply as the Hydra, is a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid. Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld, and archaeology has established it as a sacred site older than Mycenaean Argos. In the canonical Hydra myth, the monster is killed by Heracles (Hercules) as the second of his Twelve Labors.

The oldest extant Hydra narrative appears in Hesiod's Theogony, while the oldest images of the monster are found on a pair of bronze fibulae dating to c. 700 BCE. In both these sources, the main motifs of the Hydra myth are already present: a multi-headed serpent that is slain by Heracles and Iolaus. While these fibulae portray a six-headed Hydra, its number of heads was first fixed in writing by Alcaeus (c. 600 BCE), who gave it nine heads. Simonides, writing a century later, increased the number to fifty, while Euripides, Virgil, and others did not give an exact figure.

Like the initial number of heads, the monster's capacity to regenerate lost heads varies with time and author. The first mention of this ability of the Hydra occurs with Euripides, where the monster grew back a pair of heads for each one severed by Heracles. In the Euthydemus of Plato, Socrates likens Euthydemus and his brother Dionysidorus to a Hydra of a sophistical nature who grows two arguments for every one refuted. Palaephatus, Ovid, and Diodorus Siculus concur with Euripides, while Servius has the Hydra grow back three heads each time. Depictions of the monster dating to c. 500 BCE show it with a double tail as well as multiple heads, suggesting the same regenerative ability at work, but no literary accounts include this feature. The Hydra had many parallels in ancient Near Eastern religions. In particular, Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian mythology celebrated the deeds of the war and hunting god Ninurta that included slaying a a seven-headed serpent.

Several versions of Heracles struggle with the hydra existed. In one, Heracles, seeing the creature merely grew more heads when he decapitated it, asked his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. In an alternate version, Heracles dipped his sword in the Hydra's blood and used its own venom to burn subsequent stumps and prevent their regrowth.

The victorious Heracles then dipped his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood and used them to kill the Stymphalian Birds, the giant Geryon, and, unfortunately, the centaur Nessus. Nessus' tainted blood was applied to the Tunic of Nessus, by which the centaur had his posthumous revenge against Heracles. Both Strabo and Pausanias report that the stench of the river Anigrus in Elis, making all the fish of the river inedible, was reputed to be due to the Hydra's poison, washed from the arrows Heracles used on the centaur.


Heracles would return to the court of King Eurystheus, but the Greek hero would find that all his efforts were in vain for the king would annul the Labour, pointing out that Heracles had not undertaken the task alone, despite the water of Lerna now being clean, and the threat of the Hydra removed.

The legend of the Lernaean Hydra would live on for Hera would place the image of the monster amongst the stars as the constellation Hydra, whilst Karkinos would be transformed into the constellation Cancer.

In some stories, the Lernaean Hydra was resurrected to become one of the guardians of the Underworld, not just a defender of an entrance, and so the Hydra would work in the domain of Hades, alongside its sibling, Cerberus.

Reference to the Lernaean Hydra would appear in the continuing adventures of Heracles, for the poisoned arrows would often prove decisive for the Greek hero.

There are two tales were the blood of the Hydra was particularly prominent. One was in the death of the wisest centaur Chiron for the centaur accidently pricked himself with an arrowhead, and even though Chiron was immortal, the pain was such, that he willingly gave up his immortality to be free of it.

A second centaur, Nessus, was also killed by one of Heracles’ arrows, although this time on purpose. Nessus tried to abduct Heracles’ wife, Deianira, and was subsequently shot by the hero. Before he died though, Nessus presented Deianira with a blood soaked cloak, and when, years later, she presented the cloak to Heracles, the blood of the Hydra would ultimately kill Heracles, as he too was poisoned.

The bow and arrows of Heracles would also appear in the stories of the Trojan War, for they were at that point in the possession of Philoctetes, who would make use of them at Troy.


Contents

Hercules and the Hydra by Antonio del Pollaiolo, circa 1475.

After slaying the Nemean lion, Eurystheus sent Heracles to slay the Hydra, which Hera had raised just to slay Heracles. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He fired flaming arrows into hydra's lair, the spring of Amymone, a deep cave that it only came out of to terrorize neighboring villages. Β] He then confronted hydra, wielding a harvesting sickle (according to some early vase-paintings), a sword or his famed club. Ruck and Staples (1994: 170) have pointed out that the chthonic creature's reaction was botanical: upon cutting off each of its heads he found that two grew back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero. The weakness of the Hydra was that only one of its heads was immortal.

The details of the struggle are explicit in Apollodorus (2.5.2): realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a blazing firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps. Seeing that Heracles was winning the struggle, Hera sent a large crab to distract him. He crushed it under his mighty foot. Its one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword given to him by Athena. Heracles placed it under a great rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius (Kerenyi 1959:144), and dipped his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood, and so his second task was complete.

The alternative version of this myth is that after cutting off one head he then dipped his sword in it and used its venom to burn each head so it could not grow back. Hera, upset that Heracles slew the beast she raised to kill him, placed it in the dark blue vault of the sky as the Constellation Hydra. She then turned the crab into the Constellation Cancer. After Heracles sent word that the creature was dead, Eurystheus said that the Labour did not count, as he had Iolaus help him by using a firebrand against the creature. After declaring that Heracles still had to do nine more Labours, Eurystheus sent him to capture the Ceryneian Hind alive.

Heracles later used an arrow dipped in the Hydra's poisonous blood to kill the centaur Nessus and Nessus's tainted blood was applied to the Tunic of Nessus, by which the centaur had his posthumous revenge. Both Strabo and Pausanias report that the stench of the river Anigrus in Elis, making all the fish of the river inedible, was reputed to be due to the Hydra's poison, washed from the arrows Heracles used on the centaur. Γ]

When Eurystheus, the agent of ancient Hera who was assigning The Twelve Labours to Heracles, found out that it was Heracles' nephew Iolaus who had handed him the firebrand, he declared that the labour had not been completed alone and as a result did not count towards the ten labours set for him. The mythic element is an equivocating attempt to resolve the submerged conflict between an ancient ten Labours and a more recent twelve.


Its lair was the lake of Lerna formed by the Amymone spring in the Argolid, though archaeology has borne out the myth that the sacred site was older even than the Mycenaean city of Argos, for 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 (Kerenyi 1959, p. 143. )

The Second Labour of Hercules: The Lernaean Hydra

Upon reaching the swamp near Lerna where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes and fired flaming arrows into its lair, the spring of Amymone, to draw it out. He then confronted it, wielding a harvesting sickle in some early vase-paintings Ruck and Staples (p. 170) have pointed out that the chthonic creature's reaction was botanical: upon cutting off each of its heads he found that two grew back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero, Heracles.

The details of the confrontation are explicit in Apollodorus (2.5.2): realising that he could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a burning firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after decapitation, and handed him the blazing brand. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus burned the open stump leaving the hydra dead its one immortal head Heracles placed under a great rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius (Kerenyi1959 p 144), and dipped his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood, and so his second task was complete.

The alternative to this is that after cutting off one head he dipped his sword in it and used its venom to burn each head so it couldn't grow back.

The poisonous arrows were used to kill Geryon. Heracles later used another arrow dipped in the Hydra's poison blood to kill the centaur Nessus and Nessus's tainted blood applied to the Tunic of Nessus eventually killed Heracles himself.

In an alternative version, Hera's crab was at the site to bite his feet and bother him, hoping to cause his death. Hera set it in the Zodiac to follow the Lion (Eratosthenes, Catasterismi)

When Eurystheus, the agent of ancient Hera who was assigning to Heracles The Twelve Labours, found out that it was Heracles' nephew who had handed him the firebrand, he declared that the labour had not been completed alone and as a result did not count towards the ten labours set for him. The mythic element is an equivocating attempt to resolve the submerged conflict between an ancient ten Labours and a more recent twelve.

In another version , Heracles defeated the Hydra by remembering the words of his wise teacher, Chiron, who had said, "We rise by kneeling we conquer by surrendering we gain by giving up."

All his other weapons having failed, Heracles remembered his mentor's words and knelt down in the swamp and lifted up the monster by one of her heads into the light of day, where she began to wilt. Heracles then cut off each of her heads, dipping his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood at the same time. However, none re-grew. After he had severed all nine heads, a tenth one appeared Heracles recognised this as a jewel and buried it under a rock.

African Hydra

An African Hydra is a water-monster with seven heads. It keeps the river flowing and people brought offerings to them. One day a woman asked for the Hydra's help, in return for her Jinde Sirinde. Her water jar had been filled with mud. The Hydra agreed to the deal, cleaning out her jar, and filling it with water for her. When Jinde was old enough, she was sent to the river to collect water but eventually the Hydra came to the shore and took her away to be his wife. Jinde pleaded with him to be allowed to go back. The Hydra agreed to let her go for one day to see her parents one last time but she went to the house of her lover, who took his sword and killed the Hydra by cutting off all seven heads.


Sources

  • Jane Ellen Harrison (1903) Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion
  • Robert Graves (1955) The Greek Myths
  • Carl Kerenyi (1959) The Heroes of the Greeks
  • Walter Burkert (1985) Greek Religion
  • Carl Ruck and Danny Staples (1994) The World of Classical Myth

A portion of content for this article is credited to Wikipedia. Content under GNU Free Documentation License(GFDL)


Heracles Facts

Heracles is the son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene.

As son of Zeus, Heracles has many important mortals and gods as his siblings, including Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Persephone and Perseus.

Heracles had five children called Alexiares, Anicetus, Telephus, Hyllus and Tlepolemus.

Heracles had four main consorts – Megara, Omphale, Deianira and Hebe.

He is protector of mankind and the patron of the gymnasium. He was a demi-god but was later allowed to live on Mount Olympus thanks to apotheosis through Zeus.

His symbols are the club and lion skin.

Hercules is the Roman version of Heracles, but his myths remain almost the same. The Romans simply adopted the myths of Heracles, only adding a little detail to ‘Romanify’ the figure.

It was the poison of the Hydra, through the blood of the centaur Nessus, that killed Heracles in a slow and painful manner.

Heracles had a bad temper and was quick to anger. He was also lacking in intelligence and would take decisions without much thought. He’s the embodiment of brawn without much brain.

While mortal during his life, he became an immortal god after his death as the gods deemed that he had earned himself a spot on Mount Olympus.


Watch the video: Heracles u0026 The lernaean Hydra: The 12 Labours of Heracles. Greek Mythology


Comments:

  1. Tuketu

    You are wrong. I'm sure. I am able to prove it.

  2. Holwell

    It agree, it is an amusing phrase

  3. Tall

    This brilliant phrase will come in handy.

  4. Awarnach

    remarkably, this funny message

  5. Brunon

    Talent ...



Write a message