Cancer & Hydra

By Daniel Byle & Michael Nesbitt



Cancer is a zodiacal constellation. As with many other constellations, its exact mythological origin is uncertain; however, the most widely accepted story is that Cancer was the crab sent to harass Hercules while he was on his second labor. As he battled the Lernaean Hydra, the ever-jealous Juno sent Cancer to nip at the hero's heels. The crab was eventually crushed beneath Hercules's feet, but Juno (Hera) placed it in the heavens as a reward for its faithful service.

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Modern Reference

Final Fantasy, a heavily mythology based game, has a boss known as Cancer who is a giant crab.
Kid Icarus, another heavily mythology based game, has a weapon called Cancer's Claw.


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This constellation represents the Lernaean Hydra, slain by Hercules as his second labor. The Hydra was a multi-headed monster--according to Diodorus (first century B.C.), it had a hundred heads; Simonides (sixth century B.C.) said it had fifty. The most common opinion, however, seems to be that it had nine. What made the Hydra so difficult was the fact that, whenever one of its heads was chopped off, two would grow in its place. Hercules managed to get around this rather major obstacle by having his nephew, Iolaus, cauterized each stump with a hot iron as soon as Hercules could chop off a head. The hero then buried the monster's immortal head beneath a rock. The task was made somewhat more difficult by Juno, who sent a crab to nip at the feet of Hercules while he battled the Hydra.

Modern Connections

Hydra is a fictional terrorist organization appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The name "Hydra" is a reference to the mythical Lernaean Hydra.


Both can be seen currently at an altitude of 46.48° and an azimuth of 129.36°. Best seen in the northern hemisphere during the months of February through May.