♦ Once in Breslau (now Wroclaw), now lost: Early Corinthian aryballos with Herakles and Hydra; Hydra in center, who is attacked by Herakles with sword from the left and Iolaos with harpé from right; between Herakles’ legs, a crab; behind Herakles, an encouraging Athena; on far left, a two-horse chariot with an owl above the horses and a Siren above the chariot box; on far right, charioteer named Lapythos in four-horse chariot, with severed Hydra head above horses and bird flying in front of chariot
Drawing of Herakles and Hydra from H. Payne, Necrocorinthia: A Study of Corinthian Art in the Archaic Period (1931), p. 127 fig. 45A
Drawing of aryballos with Herakles and Hydra from H. Payne, Necrocorinthia: A Study of Corinthian Art in the Archaic Period (1931), p. 287 fig. 123 bis
Digital LIMC (no photo)
♦ Jena, University 137: Middle Corinthian cup with Herakles and Hydra; Hydra in center, attacked by Herakles with sword from left, and Iolaos with harpé from right; behind Herakles, Athena, and on far left, a two-horse chariot; on far right, a youth on a horse
Drawings from H. Payne, Necrocorinthia: A Study of Corinthian Art in the Archaic Period (1931), p. 127 fig. 45B
♦ Basel, Antikenmuseum and Ludwig Collection BS 425: Middle Corinthian aryballos with Herakles and Hydra; Hydra in center; Herakles attacks Hydra with sword from left, while Iolaos attacks her from right with harpé; behind Herakles, Athena, and behind Iolaos, a four-horse chariot with an owl over horses
♦ From Argos, now lost: Middle Corinthian kotyle with Herakles and Hydra; Hydra is in center; Herakles attacks Hydra from the right, with what looks like calipers; a crab is between his legs; Ioalos attacks Hydra from left with harpé; behind Iolaos, Athena; at far left, chariot and two loose horses; at far right, woman (note that original kotyle may have had a reversed orientation)
Drawings from H. Payne, Necrocorinthia: A Study of Corinthian Art in the Archaic Period (1931), p. 127 fig. 45C
♦ Paris, Louvre CA 3004: Middle Corinthian skyphos with Herakles and Hydra; Hydra in center; Herakles attacks Hydra from left, with raised club?, while Iolaos attacks from right with harpé; behind Herakles, Athena, and behind her, a two-horse chariot
♦ Chest of Kypselos from temple of Hera at Olympia (known through Pausanias’ description and modern reconstructions)
♠ Pausanias, Description of Greece 5.17.11
Iolaus, who voluntarily helped Heracles in his labours, is shown as a victor in the chariot-race [or as Heracles’ helper]. At this point the funeral games of Pelias come to an end, and Heracles, with Athena standing beside him, is shooting at the hydra, the beast in the river Amymone. Heracles can be easily recognized by his exploit and his attitude, so his name is not inscribed by him. (Greek Text).
Detail with Herakles and Hydra, from reconstruction of chest of Kypselos by W. von Massow, “Die Kypseloslade,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung vol. 41 (1916), pl. 1.
♦ Throne of Apollo at Amyklai (known through Pausanias’ description and modern reconstructions)
Next to these have been wrought two of the exploits of Heracles—his slaying the hydra, and his bringing up the Hound of Hell. (Greek Text).
Reconstruction of whole throne by A. Furtwängler, from J.G. Frazer, Pausanias’s Description of Greece, vol. III, Commentary (2nd ed. 1913), p. 352
♦ Athens, Acropolis Museum: limestone pediment (gable) with Herakles and Hydra; in the center, fragmentary Herakles raises club against Hydra, which fills right half of pediment; behind Herakles on the left, Iolaos mounts chariot, and in left corner is crab
Drawing, from Wikimedia
♦ Once Berlin F1801, now lost: Attic black-figure Little Master cup with Herakles and Hydra; Herakles attacks Hydra with harpé, while a woman (Athena or local nymph Lerna) encourages Herakles
E. Pfuhl, Malerei und Zeichnung der Griechen vol. 3 (1923) pl. 64 fig. 250
Digital LIMC (no photo)
♦ Rome, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia 74989: Attic black-figure Tyrrhenian amphora with Herakles and Hydra?; Herakles in lion’s skin attacks large snake (Hydra?) from the left with a club; Iolaos attacks snake from the right with a club; behind Herakles, seated Athena, Hermes and a woman (the nymph Lerna?)
♦ Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum 83.AE.346: Caeretan black-figure hydria with Herakles and Hydra; Herakles attacks Hydra from right with club, while Iolaos attacks from left with harpé; fire burns under Iolaos’ legs, while crab pinches Herakles’ heel (see detail below)
Detail of crab who pinches Herakles’ heel
Images from Getty Museum
♦ Rome, Villa Giulia 106465: Attic black-figure neck-amphora with Iolaos cauterizing Hydra’s stumps with torch while Herakles in lion’s skin uses harpé to cut off heads
♦ Paris, Louvre CA 598: Attic black-figure white-ground lekythos with Herakles and Hydra; Herakles attacks Hydra from left with harpé while crab pinches his leg; Iolaos attacks Hydra from right with torch, while fire burns behind him; behind Herakles is Athena, who rushes in to help
G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, Histoire de l’art dans l’antiquité vol. 10: La Grèce archaïque, la céramique d’Athènes (1914), p. 690 fig. 376
♦ Collection of Shelby White and Leon Levy: Attic red-figure amphora by Kleophrades Painter with Herakles, Hydra and Iolaos; Herakles, on the left, uses harpé to cut off Hydra’s head; Iolaos, on the right, uses two torches to cauterize stumps of Hydra
Digital LIMC (no image)
Beazley Archive Pottery Database (no image)
♠ Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.37.4
It had, however, in my opinion, one head, and not several. It was Peisander of Camirus who, in order that the beast might appear more frightful and his poetry might be more remarkable, represented the hydra with its many heads. Greek Text
♠ Peisandros fr 2 PEG – Poetae Epici Graeci 1, p. 168, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig 1987.
♠ Scholion at Hesiod, Theogony 443 LP – Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta, p. 291, ed. E. Lobel and D.L. Page. Oxford 1955.
Alkaios says that the Hydra had nine heads, but Simonides says that it had fifty. (Transl. E. Bianchelli)
♠ Simonides 569 PMG – Poetae Melici Graeci, p. 294 ed. D. L. Page. Oxford 1962.
Alkaios says that the Hydra had nine heads, but Simonides says that it had fifty. (Transl. E Bianchelli)
♠ Stesichoros, Geryoneis 15 SLG –Supplementum Lyricis Graecis, ed. D. Page, pp. 10-11. Oxford 1974.
♠ Sophokles, Trachiniai 573-74
If you gather with your hands the blood clotted round my wound, at the place where the Hydra, Lerna‘s monstrous growth, imbued the arrow with black gall, you will have a charm for the heart of Heracles. Greek Text
♠ Euripides, Herakles Mainomenos (Hercules Furens) 419-24
He burned to ashes Lerna‘s murderous hound, the many-headed hydra, and smeared its venom on his darts, with which he slew the shepherd of Erytheia, a monster with three bodies. Greek Text
♠ Euripides, Herakles Mainomenos (Hercules Furens) 1274-75
or how when I had killed the hydra, that monster with a ring of heads with power to grow again. Greek Text
Artistic sources edited by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, March 2023
Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, December 2020
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