Sunday, August 20, 2006

On fighting nameless beasts

In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra was an ancient nameless serpent-like chthonic water beast that possessed numerous heads—the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint—and poisonous breath. The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as one of his Twelve Labours.

Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes and fired flaming arrows into its lair, the spring of Amymone, to draw it out. He then confronted it, wielding a harvesting sickle in some early vase-paintings; upon cutting off each of its heads he found that two grew back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero, Heracles.

Realising that he could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea of using a burning firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after decapitation, and handed him the blazing brand. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus burned the open stump leaving the hydra dead.

Today, we have many wannabe Heracles's, welding their sickles, fighting the many-headed and nameless terror beast, cutting of heads, only to be surprised that two heads grow back. And we have many wannabe Iolaus's who think that the Muslim body growing these terror heads needs to be burned.

What was the problem with Hydra anyway? The only thing this nameless beast has done wrong seems to be that has fallen out of favour with Hera...
Lernaean Hydra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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