The Lernaean Hydra

The second of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

This monster, like the Nemean Lion, was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, and was brought up by Hera. It ravaged the country of Lernae near Argos, and dwelt in a swamp near the well of Amymone: it was formidable by its nine heads, the middle of which was immortal.

Heracles, with burning arrows, hunted up the monster, and with his club or a sickle he cut off its heads; but in the place of the head he cut off, two new ones grew forth each time, and a gigantic crab came to the assistance of the hydra, and wounded Heracles. However, with the assistance of his faithful servant Iolaus, he burned away the heads of the hydra, and buried the ninth or immortal one under a huge rock.

Having thus conquered the monster, he poisoned his arrows with its bile, whence the wounds inflicted by them became incurable. Eurystheus declared the victory unlawful, as Heracles had won it with the aid of Iolaus.

Previous labor: The Nemean Lion.
Next labor: The Ceryneian Stag.



  • Diodorus Siculus, iv, 11.
  • Euripides. Hercules Furens, 419, 1188; Ion, 192.
  • Hesiod. Theogony, 313 ff.
  • Hyginus. Fabulae, 30.
  • Ovid. Metamorphoses ix, 70.
  • Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 36.6, 37.4; v, 5.5.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.2.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
  • Virgil. Aeneid viii, 300.

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