Greek MythologyMythology

Too Many Heads! 5 Beings in Greek Mythology With Multiple Heads

If two heads are better than one, three, four, or even fifty must be incredible, right? Greek Mythology certainly seems to think so. There are a lot of beings in Greek mythology with multiple heads. With hybrid creatures, I would argue that they represent the wilderness and dangers outside of the cities. With multi-headed beings, I’m not sure what they represent, though they almost always tend to be monsters.

While this isn’t biologically impossible, it’s certainly much rarer in real life.

Anyway, here are five beings in Greek Mythology with…just…too many heads!

Table of Contents

1. Orthus

Orthos Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2620

Let’s start with something with just two heads. Everyone knows about Cerberus, the guardian of the underworld in greek mythology. Not as many people know about his brother, Orthus. He was a two-headed dog who also served as a guard dog. Unlike his brother, he wasn’t in the underworld but was instead in service to the giant Geryon, guarding his cattle. He was slain by Herakles during his 10th Labor.

2. Hydra

Lernaean Hydra Louvre E851

Possibly the most famous multi-headed being in Greek Mythology, the hydra grew two new heads for every one that was cut off. Killing it was one of Heracles 12 labors and he was only able to do it when Iolaus prevented the heads from regrowing by cauterizing the stumps with a torch before they could regrow. Ew.

3. Hundred-handers

(2) Flaxman Ilias 1793, gestochen 1795, 185 x 251 mm

Given the somewhat awkward name of Hundred-handers (Hecatoncheires), they also had fifty heads. There were three of them (Cottus, Briareus, and Gyges), and they were the descendants of Gaia and Uraunos. They were massive, fearsome beings who, in most stories, helped Zeus during the Titanomachy and, in some stories, became the titans’ wardens.

4. Chimera

Chimera Apulia Louvre K362

Typically described as three-headed, the chimera was a monster that ravaged the countryside. Killed by Belerephon after he shoved melted lead into one of its mouths, the Chimera was composed of a lion, goat, and dragon. Or Snake, depending on the translation. It also breathed fire. Go figure…

5. Geryon

Heracles Geryon Louvre F55

Depictions of Geryon vary, with him sometimes having wings or being three bodies connected, or one body and three heads. Regardless, he has an interesting lineage, being the grandson of Medusa and the nephew of Pegasus (yes, the flying horse). He is mostly known for his role in Herakles tenth labor, where Herakles had to take his cattle.

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