Painting depicting the myth of Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra.

Chronology: 580 - 550 B.C.
Inventory no: KN 6
Exhibition Area: Corinth, a powerful city-state

This painting depicts Hercules’ second labour, the killing of the Lernaean Hydra. The painting, although fragmentary, impresses with its degree of detail, extensive use of inscription and excellent quality dyes. The Lernaean Hydra was an immortal beast with seven or nine heads, which lived in the area of Lerna – a swampland south of Argos – from which it got its name. According to the legend, when Hercules cut one of its heads off, two more would sprout in its place. The only way to stop their increasing number was to burn them with fire, which he achieved with the help of his nephew Iolaus. The final head, which was immortal, Hercules cut off and buried in the earth to keep it from coming back to life. Hercules then dipped his arrow tips in the Hydra’s blood to make them poisonous.