The Second Labor: The Hydra

The second labor of Hercules was to kill the Lernean Hydra. The hydra was a serpent with nine heads. It lived in the dark waters of a swamp near a town called Lerna. The Hydra used its poisonous venom to attack others, but it was almost impossible to destroy because one of its heads was immortal. When Hercules went to get rid of the Hydra, he took his nephew, Iolatus. Together they went to Lerna and found the Hydra by the springs of Amymone.

Hercules first lured the monstrous creature from its lair by shooting flaming arrows at it. When it came out of its safe den, Hercules grabbed it. The Hydra put up a valiant fight, however, by wrapping a coil around Hercules' foot and making it impossible for him to escape. To make matters worse, every time Hercules struck one of the Hydra's heads, two more would grow in its place! Soon, though, Ioalus came to Hercules' rescue by holding a torch to the neck before the heads could grow back.

One by one they rid the Hydra of its mortal heads until they reached the final immortal head. Hercules chopped off this head and buried it on the side of the road that led from Learna to Elaeus. He then covered the buried head with a big rock for good measure. Finally, Hercules cut open what was left of the doomed Hydra and dipped his arrows in its poisonous blood.

Hercules succeeded in his second labor, but unfortunately, Eurystheus was not happy. He thought that since Iolaus had helped Hercules, his labor should not count as one of the ten.