Miscellaneous

The Halloween Countdown: 7 – The Hydra, from Greek Mythology

“Hy·dra / ˈhīdrə/ 1. Greek Mythol. a many-headed snake whose heads grew again as they were cut off, killed by Hercules” – Oxford English Dictionary. Number seven!

“Hy·dra / ˈhīdrə/ 1. Greek Mythol. a many-headed snake whose heads grew again as they were cut off, killed by Hercules” – Oxford English Dictionary

By far the oldest monster presented in this list, it is also one of the most famous ones. You must have heard of this monster, this serpent-like water creature which spat deadly acid, had poisonous blood running through its veins, and lots of heads. Every time a head was cut off, two new ones spawned in its place. Only one person, Heracles (Hercules), could kill it.

This creature is a monster fair and square, unlike the previous two entries. It looks like one, it is dangerous, it is partly immortal, and can only be destroyed by a true hero. While Heracles managed to kill it in the end, he did spend some time simply hacking off heads without having a single clue on how to kill it (it is said that Heracles, when he had the luminous idea to burn the stumps in order to prevent new heads from growing, was aided by Athena, who was, to put it kindly, quite a bit smarter than Heracles). However, to me this monster is also a metaphor for a problem that simply won’t go away.

Imagine worrying about something, and you’ve tried really, really hard to solve it, but every time you seem to get a grip on the situation, another problem, or perhaps even two, that you hadn’t foreseen yet arises. Although the easiest way out seems to be giving up, you feel like you need to try one more time. Let this post about the Hydra be a comfort to you: no matter how dire the situation seems, eventually, if you stick to your problem for long enough, you will eventually, either by yourself or by divine inspiration, come up with the solution. Every monster can be defeated, whether it’s a real one or a symbolic one.

So, is the Hydra truly a scary monster? Or should a different Ancient Greek monster have been added to the list instead? Have you ever encountered your own ‘Hydra’ problem? Share your opinion in the comments!

This is the Lake of Lerna where the Hydra used to dwell. Would visiting this site inspire heroism?

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