I couldn’t write about Typhon the super-destructor without mentioning his lovely lass Echidna, and in the spirit of equality she also gets a post.
Echidna was a drakaina, basically a female dragon, although like the other lady dragons she was more of a serpent chick, with the snake bit on the bottom and the chick bit on top.
Her parentage is a hotly disputed subject, with our old friend Captain Cheeseball, aka Hesiod, citing her mum and dad as either Ceto and Phorcys or Chrysaor and the water nymph Callirhoe. While various other, lesser commentators, reckon she’s the daughter of Gaia and Tartarus or Peiras and the River Styx.
In keeping with that sense of ambiguity many other aspects of this mysterious monster are equally open for hot debate. In fact throughout the Greek myths the subject of Echidna has one of, if not the greatest number of discrepancies between the poets when speaking of her.
So let’s just try to piece together what we can, eh?
First off, and something everyone agrees on, is Echnidna’s FriendFace name – The Mother of All Monsters. Aptly named because she and Typhon spawned most of the weirdo freakshows of the mythology.
For example: Cerberus – the multi-headed guard dog of Hades, and Dis’ favourite pet.
Orthus – another hound, this time with just two heads, who guarded the cattle of Geryon, until he was whacked by Heracles.
The Hydra of Lerna – a multi-headed serpent, that would grow two heads in place of one that was cut off. The Lernean Hydra was often described much like it’s mother in appearance.
The Chimera – A fire-spitting freakshow whose body was part lion, part goat and part serpent. A pretty fierce monster, until Bellerophon came along and made it into pate.
The Caucasian Eagle – the bird that chowed down on Prometheus’ liver.
The Colchian Dragon – the beast that guarded the Golden Fleece.
The Crommyonian Sow – dispatched by Theseus.
The Teumessian Fox (or Cadmean Vixen) – an uncatchable scamp.
According to Hyginus, who lived during the reign of Augustus Caesar and no doubt had impeccable teeth, the diabolical duo were also responsible for The Gorgon, Scylla, the Sphinx and the Nemean Lion (although Hesiod says these last two were fathered by Orthus (Echidna’s offspring), and their mother is variously cited by him as Echidna, the Chimera or Ceto.
Hyginus also gives Echidna and Typhon credit for Ladon, the dragon that guarded the golden apples in the garden of Hesperides, but a far more reliable source is our old pal Hesiod who declares Ladon to be Echidna’s brother.
Ladon was killed by the hero Heracles the day before Jason and the Argonaughts showed up to make a movie.
Echidna’s fate is also unclear. After her attempted coup d’etat with Typhon it is said Zeus kept her and her children alive as a slaying challenge for future heroes, but Hesoid maintains she is immortal, living out eternity in a charming two bed maisonette in a deep cave under a hollow rock far from gods and men.
One possible end to Echidna was at the hands of Argus Panoptes, the all seeing, but he only attempted the slaying once Echidna had fallen asleep. Wuss.
Argus was a huge dude with up to one hundred eyes and his chief task was as a glorified night watchman, charged by Hera to watch over the nymph Io because her randy husband Zeus had a thing for heifers.
Not to be thwarted Zeus sent Hermes to dispatch Argus and free Io. Hermes put the eyes of Argus to sleep with a few Harry Plopper style spells then beat him to death with a rock. Classy.
Well, I appear to be drifting off topic, so I’ll see you next time for more crazy fun with the gods.
Love and Chocolate x