FANDOM


Cerberus
In Greek and Roman mythology, Cerberus is a large three-headed dog that acts as the gatekeeper to the Underworld. Should any souls try to flee across the Styx, this terrifying hellhound will pursue them and drag them back. This monster has been envisioned as having more than just three heads (and often less) and has also been said to have serpents for tails. This classic beast has been used in many forms of literature and in other media such as video games.

MythologyEdit

Cerberus was the offspring of Echidna, a hybrid half-woman and half-serpent, and Typhon, a gigantic monster even the Greek gods feared. Its siblings are the Lernaean Hydra, a serpant woman; Orthus, a two-headed hellhound; and the Chimaera, a three-headed monster. The common depiction of Cerberus in Greek mythology and art is as having three heads. In most works, the three heads each respectively see and represent the past, the present, and the future, while other sources suggest the heads represent birth, youth, and old age. Each of Cerberus' heads is said to have an appetite only for live meat and thus allow only the spirits of the dead to freely enter the underworld, but allow none to leave. Cerberus was always employed as Hades' loyal watchdog, and guarded the gates that granted access and exit to the underworld.

The Twelfth Labour of HeraclesEdit

Capturing Cerberus, without using weapons, was the final labour assigned to Heracles (Hercules) by King Eurystheus, in recompense for the killing of his own children by Megara after he was driven insane by Hera, and therefore was the most dangerous and difficult.

After having been given the task, Heracles went to Eleusis to be initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries so he could learn how to enter and exit the underworld alive, and in passing absolve himself for killing centaurs. He found the entrance to the underworld at Tanaerum, and Athena and Hermes helped him to traverse the entrance in each direction. He passed Charon with Hestia's assistance and his own heavy and fierce frowning.

Whilst in the underworld, Heracles met Theseus and Pirithous. The two companions had been imprisoned by Hades for attempting to kidnap Persephone. One tradition tells of snakes coiling around their legs then turning into stone; another tells that Hades feigned hospitality and prepared a feast inviting them to sit. They unknowingly sat in chairs of forgetfulness and were permanently ensnared. When Heracles had pulled Theseus first from his chair, some of his thigh stuck to it (this explains the supposedly lean thighs of Athenians), but the earth shook at the attempt to liberate Pirithous, whose desire to have the wife of a god for himself was so insulting, he was doomed to stay behind.

Heracles found Hades and asked permission to bring Cerberus to the surface, to which Hades agreed if Heracles could overpower the beast without using weapons. Heracles was able to overpower Cerberus and proceeded to sling the beast over his back, dragging it out of the underworld through a cavern entrance in the Peloponnese and bringing it to Eurystheus. The king was so frightened of the beast, he jumped into a pithos, and asked Heracles to return it to the underworld in return for releasing him from his labours.

Popular CultureEdit

Literature Edit

  • The 1997 novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone featured a 3 headed dog named Fluffy.

Films Edit

  • A Cerberus appears in Disney's 1998 film Hercules.
  • Fluffy appears in the 2001 film adaption of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Video Games Edit

  • Cerberus appears in the Scribblenauts games.
  • The 2010 game LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4.
  • Cerberus Hounds are a recurring enemy in the God of War series, with Cerberus himself appearing as a miniboss during God of War 2.

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.