HESPERIUS DRAGON (Drakon Hesperios) - Hundred-headed serpent from Greek mythology (2023)

Greek mythology>>Bestiary>>dragon>> Hesperian Dragon (Drakon Hesperios)
greek name

Dragon Hesperius


Dragon Hesperios

Latin spelling

Dragon of the Hesperides


western dragon

The DRAKON HESPERION (Hesperian Dragon) was a hundred-headed serpent named Ladon who was responsible for guarding the golden apples of the Hesperides and tormenting the Titan Atlas, bearer of Heaven. The creature was killed by Heracles when he was sent to retrieve the Golden Apples as one of his twelve labors. Later it was placed under the stars by the godsconstellationDraco orbits the North Pole.

In Hesiod, Ladon's parents and brothers represent the various perils of the sea. Therefore, the hundred-headed snake, whose name means "strong current", could have represented dangerous sea currents.



[1]PHORKYS&SALVATION (Hesiod Theogonie 333)
[2]typhus&ECHIDNA (Apollodorus 2.113, Fabeln des Hyginus 151)


LADON (Ladon). The dragon believed to guard the apples of the Hesperides. It is said that he was able to assume different voices and was the son of Typhon and Echidna; but he is also called the son of Ge, or of Phorcys and Ceto. He had been commissioned by Juno to watch over the Gardens of the Hesperides, and he never slept; but he was slain by Heracles; and the image of the battle was placed between the stars by Zeus. (You.Teog.333; apollo. Pole. 4. 1396; servicefor eyes.4,484; Hygiene.Poet. Astro.ii. 6.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


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Echidna Hekatonkephalos

Latin spelling

Draco Ladon

Echidna Hecatoncephalus


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Hundred Headed Vipers


Hesiod, Theogony 333ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (8th or 7th century BC Greek epic):
"Keto (Ceto), united in love with Phorkys (Phorcys), was the mother of the youngest of mortals Dracones (serpent dragon), he who in the great and dark hidden borders of the earth guards the golden apples [i.e. Hesperian dragon ]."

Aristophanes, Frogs 475ff (O'Neill trans.) (5th-4th century BC Greek comedy):
"[Aiacus (Aeacus), the gatekeeper of Haides, threatens Dionysus in the underworld:] 'Let the black-hearted Stygian rock and the blood-soaked cliff of Akheron (Acheron) hold him; and the circling dogs of Kokytos (Cocytus) and the hundred-headed snakeEchidna) [i.e. the Hesperian Draco] will rend his entrails; Her lungs are attacked by Myraina Tartesia (the Tartesian Eel) [Ekhidna (Echidna)], her kidneys, bleeding from her own entrails, are torn to pieces by the Teithrasiai Gorgons (Tithrasiaic Gorgons).'"

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 113 (trans. Aldrich) (greechischer Mythograph C2nd A.D.):
"An immortal serpent guarded them [the golden apples], the son of Typhon and Ekhidna (Echidna), with a hundred heads speaking in voices of various kinds."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 121 :
"Some say, however, that he [Heracles] did not take the apples from Atlas, but killed the serpent that was guarding them and plucked them himself."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 1390 ff (trans. Rieu) (Griechisches Epos C3º v. Chr.):
“They [the Argonauts] found the holy place where until the day before the serpent Ladon, a son of Libyan soil, watched over the golden apples in the garden of Atlas, while the Hesperides sang near them and were busy with their chores their fair But now the serpent slain by Hercules lay by the trunk of the apple tree, only the tip of its tail still twitching, its dark spine showed no sign of life from the head down, its blood was poisoned, arrows saturated with the gall of the Lernaean hydra, and flies, who died in the suppurating wounds...
[The Hesperis Aigle (Hesperid Aegle) addresses the Argonauts:] “Yesterday there was a man here, a wicked man, who killed the watchful serpent, stole our golden apples, and disappeared. For us it brought an indescribable sadness. . . [he carried] the bow and arrows he used to shoot our monster here.'"

Aratus, Phaenomena 45 ff (trans. Mair) (greechisches astronomisches Gedicht C3rd BC):
“As if it were the branch of a river, beautifully circling the [constellation] Draco (Draco the Dragon), winding round and round endlessly; on both sides of its spiral are carried the bears, which more and more avoid the blue sea. Now to which he stretches the tip of his tail, but with the spool he catches the little bear. The tip of his tail ends in Helike's head, but in the coil Kynosoura (Cynosura) has her head. For her spiral passes through her head and approaches her feet, but she turns again and runs up, not a single star shines on her head, but two stars burn on her eyebrows, and two in his eyes, and one is below placed over the tip of the terrible monster's chin. His head is crooked, and he looks more like he's waving the tip of Helike's tail; its mouth and right temple face the end of its tail. This head spins close to the limits of being born and being born merging with each other. uram."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 19. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd AD):
"[Wooden carvings dedicated to the sanctuary of Olympias:] The third of the treasures ... shows the sky held up by Atlas, and also Heracles and the apple tree of the Hesperides, with the drakon (dragon) circling around the Apple twines - tree. These are also made of cedar and are the work of Theocles (Theocles), son of Hegylus. The inscription in the sky says that his son helped him with this. The Hesperides - they were removed from the Eleans - were already in my time in the Heraion (Heraeum, Temple of Hera); the treasure was made for the Epidamnians."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 26. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st BC):
"[The following is a late Greek rationalization of the Hesperides myth, in which the Draco becomes a shepherd named Draco and the golden apples (mela) are a flock of golden sheep (mela) :] The last work Heracles undertook was to bring back the golden apples of the Hesperides, and then he sailed to Libya again. About these apples there is disagreement among myth writers, and some say that there were golden apples in certain gardens of the Hesperides in Libya, where they were constantly guarded by a formidable dracon, while others claim that the Hesperides had flocks of sheep that excelled in beauty & . . The sheep were of a special color, like gold, that they were given that designation, and Drakon (dragon) was the name of the shepherd of the sheep, a man distinguished by physical strength and courage, who guarded the sheep and killed everyone he could . Dare to wear them. But in relation to such matters it will be every man's prerogative to form opinions according to his own beliefs. Anyway, Heracles killed the Guardian of Apples [Drakon]."

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 6. 256 ff (trad. Way) (épico grego C4th A.D.):
"[Depicted on the shield of Eurypylus son of Heracles:] There were forged the golden apples that shone undefiled in the garden of the Hesperides: Around the dead coils of the terrible Drakon (dragon) lay, and the maidens [Hesperides] shrank in horror about the bold son of Zeus."

Philostratus der Ältere, Bilder 2. 17 (trans. Fairbanks) (retórico grego C3rd d.C.):
“This creature [the drakon (dragon)] shall be devoted to gold, and whatever things of gold it sees, it loves and cherishes; so seemed the fleece in Kolkhis (Colchis) and the apples of the Hesperides, which once seemed to be made of gold, two Dracones (dragon serpents) that never slept, guarded and claimed as their own."

Philostratus the Elder, Pictures 2. 21:
"Heracles has already secured the golden apples...and made a name for himself for his feat in the Hesperides - to surpass them was not such an incredible feat for Heracles as it was for the Drakon (serpent dragon)."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 5 (summary by Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.):
"The drakon (dragon) that guarded the golden apples was the brother of the Nemean lion."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Römischer Mythograph C2nd AD):
"Of Typhon and Echidna [was born] ... Hesperian dragon (Dragon of the Hesperides)"

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fablen 30:
"The giant Draco (dragon), son of Typhon, who formerly guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, he [Heracles] killed near Mount Atlas and brought the apples to King Eurystheus."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabeln 151:
"From Typhon the giant and Echidna were born... the Draco who guarded the apples of the Hesperides in Oceanus."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 3:
"Serpent of the Constellation. This huge serpent is said to lie between the two bears. It is said to have guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, and after Hercules had slain it, it was placed between the stars by Juno [Hera], for at her instigation she Hercules departed to him. He is said to be the usual steward of the gardens of Juno. Pherekydes [5th century BC mythographer] says that when Jupiter [Zeus] married Juno, Terra (Terra) [Gaia ] came and brought branches with golden appliques, and Juno, full of admiration, begged the earth to plant them in her gardens near distant Mount Atlas.As the daughters of Atlas continued to gather apples from the trees, Juno would have placed this watchman there, from Hercules about the dragon, as shown by Eratosthenes [poet of the third century BC], so that everyone will know that he is called Draco for this particular reason.

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 6:
"The Kneeling One [constellation "Hercules"]. Eratosthenes [CIII v attempting to slay the dragon of the Hesperides, which presumably was never overwhelmed by sleep or had his eyes closed, provides further evidence that he was there as the guardian of Panyassis [5th century BC Greek epic poet]. B.C.] Attached was Heraclea says of the sign that Jupiter [Zeus] placed him among the stars in admiration of his struggle; for the Draco has raised his head high, and Hercules, resting on his right knee, exhausts himself to crush the right side of his head with his left foot. His right hand is up and cutting, his left outstretched with the lion's skin, and he seems to be fighting with all his might.

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.642ff (Melville trans.) (Roman epic C1 BC to C1 AD):
"The giant [Atlas] recalled the oracle Themis had given to Parnasia: 'Atlas, the time will come when the gold will be plundered from your tree, and a son of Jupiter [Zeus] will boast of this booty.' Out of fear, he will boast, he had surrounded his orchards with solid walls, and as guardian he set up a huge draco (dragon); and he drove all strangers from the borders of his kingdom."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 190 and following:
"His [Heracles'] valor secured... the apples guarded by the Restless Dragon (the sleepless dragon)"

Virgil, Aeneas 4. 480 (trans. Fairclough) (Roman Epoch C1st BC):
"Near the border of Oceanus and the setting sun lies Ethiopia (Ethiopia), the farthest land, where on his shoulders the mightiest Atlas turns the orb studded with bright stars. Hence a priestess of the Massylian race... Guardian of the Fane of Hesperides, who gave treats to the dragon and guarded the sacred arches in the tree, sprinkling dewy honey and sleeping poppies.

Propertius, Elegies 2. 248 (trans. Goold) (Römische Elegie C1st v. Chr.):
"Let him get the apples of the dracon (dragon) of the Hesperides."

Seneca, Hercules Furens 239 ff (trans. Miller) (Römische Tragödie C1st AD):
"[The labor of Heracles:] Then he sampled the rich grove dwellings [of the Hesperides], and carried away the watchful dragon's golden booty."

Seneca, Hercules Furens 526 und folgende:
"May the son of Alcmene [Heracles] use in endless wars the hand that carried the sky against monsters... gave sleep to his ever-waking eyes.

Seneca, Medea 700 and the following:
"[The witch Medea casts a spell to summon venomous serpents, invoking the names of the greatest dracones (dragons):] 'Here comes down that serpent [the Hesperian dragon, constellation Draco], lying like a great rushing torrent , whose enormous folds feel the two beasts, the larger and the smaller... In response to my enchantments, let Python come... Let Hydra return... Thou too, ever watchful dragon [of the Golden Fleece]'"


M24.1 Heracles & Hesperian Dragon

Athenian red vase painting 5 BC Chr

M24.3 Ladon the Hesperian Dragon

Athenian red vase painting 5 BC Chr

M24.2 Hesperis and Hesperian Dragon

Red-figure vase painting from Campania, 19th century. 5 v. Chr

N14.1 Hesperides and Hesperian Dragon

Athenian red vase painting 5 BC Chr

T20.1B Atlas and Hesperian Dragon

Black-figure vase painting from Laconia around 6 BC.

Z26.1A Heracles & Hesperian Dragon

Greco-Roman lily Pavimento em Mosaiko 3rd century AD



  • Hesiod, Theogonie - Greek epic 8th - 7th century BC
  • Aristophanes, frogs- Greek comedy 5th to 4th century BC
  • Platon, Ion- Greek philosophy C. IV BC. Chr
  • Apollodorus, Eine Biblioteca- Greek Mythography C2nd AD
  • Apollonius of Rhodia, The Argonautic Day- Epos Gregory Sec. III a.C.
  • Plowed phenomenon - Grega Astronomy Sec. III c
  • Diodorus Siculus, A Biblioteca da História - Greek History C1 BC
  • Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek travelogue 2nd century AD
  • Philostratus the Elder Pictures - Greek rhetoric C3 AD
  • Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History- Greek Mythography C1 - 2 AD
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Epos Gregory C4th A.D.


  • Hyginus, Fablen - Mitografia Latina 2. Jh. n. Chr.
  • Hyginus, Astronomica - Mitografia Latina 2. Jh. n. Chr.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses- Latin epic C1st B.C. - C1 direct current
  • But more correctly, elegies- Latin Elegy C1 BC
  • Seneca, Hercules the Furious - Latin Tragedy C1 n. chr
  • Seneca, Medea - Latin Tragedy C1 n. chr


A complete bibliography of the translations cited on this page.


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