For you see, Trisiras is a Brahmin. Slaying Him is a Brahmanicide – one of the most grievous and serious crimes that a man, even a God, can possibly commit. It attaches a heavy burden of sin to the enactor – even when, as with KaalBhairavJi against Brahma, the act is a vitally necessary and divinely sanctioned one. And this is, apparently, why Trita is called upon to carry out the execution. Because Lord Indra is rather keen to avoid the sanction in question. Which positions Trita as something of a ‘scape-goat’ – a role which is picked up by the figure of Trita in Vedic ritual, wherein He is called upon to take upon himself the burden of the blood-shed of sacrifice, or other sins attached to the enactor which would otherwise ruin the rite.
And here, we find a further resonancy that I believe to be at the heart of the relevant tale of Herakles – indeed, underpinning the mythic cycle of His Atonement Labours all up.
For if we consider just why it was that Herakles had been engaged in His heroic quest to slay the Hydra (and many other such arduous tasks) – it was for an act of penitence. He had, in a state of berzerk rage, killed wrongfully (perhaps mirroring Indra’s own burden of sin for a furor facilitated sinful killing in the Vedic mythology – which itself requires alleviating, and under which He had been labouring in the lead-up to the encounter with Vritra). He had carried out severe acts of kinslaying – a heavy and high crime amongst many Indo-European cultures; perhaps, in the absence of a Brahmin caste for the Greeks etc., of similar opprobrium to that highest of evils. In order to expiate the sin upon Him, He was bound to carry out certain tasks by the figure of Eurystheus. Which, I would note, effectively destroyed quite an array of other ‘evils’ out there in the world, or otherwise brought about positive incidental results.
Because it was Iolaus who slays the Hydra, per the view of Eurystheus (in truth it seems more of a ‘team effort’ – under the ultimate aegis of Goddess Athena, per Hesiod; and made possible via the empowerment and direction of Saraswati Vak Devi in our Vedic comparative typology for the slaying of Vritra), Herakles is denied the portion of the expiation of His sin that the Hydra’s blood would have otherwise provided. He does not attain the positive status associated with His victory. Which is, as you can see, exactly the opposite way around to the situation of Trita and Indra – wherein Indra does not attain the negative status, the burden of sin (requiring subsequent expiation) of the dragon-slaying.
And here, we shall take a brief lacuna to consider two other elements salient to the Dragon-Slaying, before pressing forward with how this relates to both the Zoroastrian and the Vritra contexts.
The first of these, concerns the occasionally encountered suggestion that the manner in which the Hydra was vanquished – was to take the poison spurting up from one of its severed necks, and utilizing this to cauterize the wound. This makes a certain figurative sense when dealing with a dragon … but I believe there may be something else archaically recalled here. If we cast our minds back to the figure of Trisiras – what we find is that one or two of his heads (dependent upon the telling) are engaged in pious action. Drinking Soma , reciting Vedic liturgy. Now, what is it that enables an act of dragon-slaying for the Vedic hero? Well, the empowerment of Soma is certainly an important element – and, as we have seen earlier, per RV X 8 (and, for that matter, my interpretation of .. an array of other Vedic hymnals, as well as the Vritrahan epithet shared by Agni with Indra and Saraswati Vak ) … prayer, Vedic prayer, is an enormously powerful weapon indeed for such purposes. So, we have a situation wherein the parallel to the Hydra having its demise brought about via the same thing that was found in its neck … is mirrored in Trisiras’ demise via the same things that were found in his neck likewise.
The second, concerns the curious statement in later texts around the decapitation of Trisiras leading to birds springing up from the stumps. This is interesting and may have a number of interpretations in-line with the species of the birds in question – but our purpose in raising this fact is to tie it to another act of serpentine-slaying carried out by a Striker/Thunderer figure: Perseus (you can see the ‘Per-‘ particle, similar to that of ‘Perun’ , ‘Perkwunos’; and the parentage as Son of the Sky Father also aligns; as does His Harpe weapon – the same device utilized in various tellings of Herakles’ armament in the Hydra-slaying), Who vanquishes Medusa … which produces the Pegasus emergent from the neck of the decapitated serpentine adversary. It is also possible that there may be some echo of this found in the Nordic mythology – wherein Sigurd, immediately following His act of dragon-slaying, hears the Language of the Birds upon ingesting some of the Dragon’s heartblood. A situation I have previously connected to Soma imbibing in various of my earlier work.
But let us return to the figure of Third. And another ‘parallel’ treatment of this most intriguing myth.