A daughter of Tartarus and Gaea,1 or of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe,2 and according to others again, of Peiras and Styx.3 Echidna was a monster, half maiden and half serpent, with black eyes, fearful and bloodthirsty. She was the destruction of man, and became by Typhon the mother of the Chimaera, of the many-headed dog Orthrus, of the hundred-headed dragon Ladon who guarded the apples of the Hesperides, of the Colchian dragon, of the Sphinx, Cerberus, Scylla, Gorgon, the Lernaean Hydra, of the eagle which consumed the liver of Prometheus, and of the Nemean lion. She was killed in her sleep by Argus Panoptes.4

According to Hesiod she lived with Typhon in a cave in the country of the Arimi. The Greeks on the Euxine conceived her to have lived in Scythia. When Heracles, they said, carried away the oxen of Geryon, he also visited the country of the Scythians, which was then still a desert. Once while he was asleep there, his horses suddenly disappeared, and when he woke and wandered about in search of them, he came into the country of Hylaea. He there found the monster Echidna in a cave. When he asked whether she knew anything about his horses, she answered, that they were in her own possession, but that she would not give them up, unless he would consent to stay with her for a time.

Heracles complied with the request, and became by her the father of Agathyrsus, Gelonus, and Scythes. The last of then became king of the Scythians, according to his father's arrangement, because he was the only one among the three brothers that was able to manage the bow which Heracles had left behind, and to use his father's girdle.5



  1. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 1.2.
  2. Hesiod. Theogony, 295.
  3. Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 18.1.
  4. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 1.2.
  5. Herodotus. Histories iv, 8-10.


  • Hesiod. Theogony, 307 ff.
  • Hyginus. Fabulae: Preface, p. 3, and Fabulae, 151.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 3.1, 5.10, 11; iii, 5.8.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.