Karkinos, also spelled as Carcinus, is a mythical creature from Greek mythology. It is often depicted as a giant crab and is most famously known for its appearance in the myth of Heracles (Hercules in Roman mythology) and the Twelve Labors. Karkinos is featured in the second labor of Heracles, where the hero was tasked with defeating the Hydra, a multi-headed serpent-like monster. During the battle with the Hydra, Karkinos appeared to aid the Hydra by attacking Heracles.

Artwork of Karkinos, the giant crab, clashing with Hercules.

Physical characteristics

Size: Karkinos is often described as a large and formidable creature, much bigger than an ordinary crab.

Crab-like Body: Karkinos possesses the body of a crab, characterized by a hard exoskeleton and multiple legs.

Claws: One of the most distinctive features of Karkinos is its powerful claws. These claws are typically depicted as large and formidable, capable of inflicting harm on its enemies or prey. In the myth of Heracles and the Hydra, Karkinos is said to have used its claws to attack Heracles during their battle.

Armor: Like real crabs, Karkinos is believed to have a tough and durable exoskeleton, providing protection against predators and other threats.


The origin of Karkinos, the giant crab in Greek mythology, is rooted in ancient Greek storytelling and folklore. Karkinos is most famously known for its appearance in the myth of Heracles (Hercules in Roman mythology) and the second of his Twelve Labors.

Karkinos’s role in the myth of Heracles and the Hydra underscores its significance as a mythical creature associated with challenges and obstacles that heroes must overcome. While not as prominent as some other creatures in Greek mythology, Karkinos’s appearance in this well-known myth has solidified its place in ancient lore and cultural imagination.

In addition to its role in mythology, Karkinos has been further immortalized through its representation in astrology. The constellation Cancer, which is associated with a crab, is often linked to the mythological story of Karkinos.

Artwork of Karkinos, the giant crab

powers and abilities

Strength: As a giant crab, Karkinos is likely to possess significant physical strength, particularly in its massive claws.

Defense: Karkinos’s tough exoskeleton provides it with a formidable defense against attacks from predators or adversaries.

Agility and Mobility: Crabs, including the mythical Karkinos, are known for their agility and ability to move quickly, especially in their natural aquatic environment.

Underwater Adaptation: Given its association with coastal regions and the sea, Karkinos may possess adaptations that enable it to thrive in underwater environments.

Distraction Tactics: In some versions of the myth, Karkinos attempts to distract Heracles during his battle with the Hydra by attacking him or causing disruptions.

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