Ladon is described as being terrifying, enormous, with one hundred heads, "like a hundred pythons had been fused together". His serpentine body is thicker than a booster rocket, and his bright scales shimmer like copper. Ladon's breath smells like acid, making the demigod's eyes burn, his skin crawl, and hair stand on end. He describes the stench of it being similar to that of a dead rat, but "a hundred times stronger".
Ladon, while large and terrifying physically, seems to be a sensitive soul at heart. As his sole purpose is to protect the tree of the Golden Apples, it would stand to reason that he has very few interactions with anyone, the Hesperides being an exception. Like his brother Cerberus, his job isolates him, leaving him lonely and in desire of companionship. He is also shown to recognize Zoe when she returns to the garden, and seems to hesitate when she approaches him. This would indicate that he remembers her and wishes not to hurt her, despite his task to defend the tree. Even when he attacks, he is shown to possess a sort of monster honor, sparing those who give the tree a wide berth.
Powers and Abilities
Ladon was a monstrous son of Typhon and Echidna, and was later hired by Hera to guard the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides. He twined and twisted around the tree in the garden of the Hesperides and guarded the golden apples.
Encounter with Heracles
Many years later, Ladon encountered the demigod Heracles, who needed to obtain a Golden Apple from the Garden for the second last of his Twelve Labors. In pursuance of his eleventh labor, Heracles killed Ladon with a bow and arrow and carried the apples away.
In an alternate version of the myth, Ladon was too powerful for Heracles to defeat and so wasn't slain. Because of this, the demigod went to the Titan god Atlas to get the apples for him and in exchange, would hold the sky on his shoulders until he returned. Atlas readily agreed and went past the dragon to get the apples, but when he returned, the Titan saw a chance to escape his punishment. Atlas offered to deliver the apples himself to King Eurystheus.
Heracles, however, saw the trick and pretended to agree, but asked Atlas to hold the Sky for only a moment, while Heracles padded his shoulders with his thick Nemean Lion's Pelt. This seemed reasonable to the Titan, who took the Sky back, but Heracles simply took the apples from him and left, leaving an outraged and infuriated Atlas to endure his punishment once again.
The following day, Jason and the Argonauts passed by on their chthonic return journey from Colchis, hearing the lament of "shining" Aegle, one of the four Hesperides, and viewing the still-twitching Ladon.
Myths and Legends
Ladon was given several parentages, each of which placed him at an archaic level in Greek myth: the offspring of "Ceto, joined in heated passion with Phorcys" or of Typhon, who was himself serpent-like from the waist down, and Echidna. "The Dragon which guarded the golden apples was the brother of the Nemean lion" asserted Ptolemy Hephaestion.
- According to Hyginus' Astronomy, Ladon is actually the constellation Draco.
- Ladon is referred to when an unnamed demigod says that he had faced dragons with so many heads that "if you stopped to count them you'd be pretty much dead".
- He is similar to his brother Cerberus, in that both monsters are used by the gods for good rather than evil; they also both guard specific important mythological locations: Ladon guards the tree in the Garden of the Hesperides, Cerberus guards the Underworld.
- Ladon is, quite possibly, the most powerful son of Typhon and Echidna, since even Heracles could not defeat the mighty dragon.