Explore mythology and art with information about the classic stories of heroes and gods...from the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, to the legends of the Celts. Mythography presents resources and reference materials about mythology - including recommended books, and lexicons that explain Greek, Roman, and Celtic terms.

Gardner's Art Through the Ages

This book is the classic reference for the study of art. It features a history of artists and their works, as well as lucid and engaging descriptions of the styles and periods of art history. Highly recommended for both students and scholars.

Aphrodite in Art
Aphrodite in Myth
Art Themes

home | greek | creatures | monsters | Echidna

Echidna in Greek Mythology
Echidna was a monster that played an intriguing part in Greek mythology. And this creature earned her legendary reputation as an important mythic monster for two main reasons. The first was due to her striking appearance, for Echidna was commonly portrayed as an odd and unsettling juxtaposition of beautiful woman and deadly serpent. The second reason that Echidna is significant in myth comes from the tradition that she was the mother to a motley assortment of monsters. With these points in mind, let us now explore Echidna's story in more detail.

Legend has it that Echidna was the daughter of a pair of powerful mythical beings. Some sources claim that she was the child of Tartarus and Gaia, while others propose a different set of parents entirely. Indeed, the ancient poet Hesiod suggests that Echidna was the offspring of Ceto and Phorcys. Hesiod also gives us a glimpse of Echidna in his Theogony, as the following passage from this work will demonstrate:

"Then Ceto bore another invincible monster,
in no way like mortal men or the deathless gods;
yes, in a hollow cave she bore Echidna, divine
and iron-hearted, half fair-cheeked and bright-eyed nymph
and half huge and monstrous snake inside the holy earth,
a snake that strikes swiftly and feeds on living flesh.
Her lair is a cave under a hollow rock,
far from immortal gods and mortal men;
the gods decreed for her a glorious dwelling there."
(Hesiod, Theogony, 295-303)

In addition to revealing the name of her parents, describing her appearance, and explaining that she lived in a secluded cave, Hesiod also includes another important element in his of discussion of Echidna. For Hesiod's Theogony features a list of offspring to which this prolific monster gave birth. Echidna bore Orthus (the dog of Geryon), Cerberus, the Hydra of Lerna, and the Chimera after mating with Typhon. Hesiod adds that Echidna then produced the Sphinx and the Nemean Lion as a result of her union with Orthus.

According to some versions of the myth, Echidna was eventually killed by Argus - but of course only after she had given birth to what amounts to a horde of malicious monsters and other creatures.

Do you have a specific question about Greek mythology? Then try the Mythography forum!

Who's Who in Classical Mythology

This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! There are good entries on many Greek creatures.

The Bibliography

This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! Organized alphabetically, this who's who features information about over 1200 of the most intriguing characters - and creatures - from Classical myth and legend.