Cerberus: The three Headed Dog of Greek Mythology
There are many unique creatures mentioned in Greek mythology. One of the most well known may be the three-headed dog known as Cerberus. It was the job of Cerberus to guard the entrance to Hades. In Greek mythology, this was the underworld where spirits of the dead were the only ones allowed to enter.
No one was permitted to leave.
The Greeks had a deep respect as well as fear of wild dogs. The mythical dog Cerberus is an example of what the Greeks feared most in a dog. It also shows the respect they had for the abilities of dogs to be guardians.
According to Greek mythology, Typhon was the father of Cerberus. He was a large fire-breathing dragon who was also a god. He had large glowing red eyes, a hundred wings as well as a hundred heads. The gods who lived on Mount Olympus were very afraid of Typhon.
The life mission of Typhon was to destroy the world as well as put obstacles in the path of Zeus who was trying to move toward the Kingdom of Heaven. Typhon was known for his ability to cause fear and spread disaster. The mother of Cerberus was Echidna. She was a creature that was half snake and half human woman. She had the head and torso of a beautiful woman. Echidna was known for her deep black eyes. The lower part of her body was that of a serpent. She lived in a cave and lured men there before she consumed them.
The primary job of Cerberus in Greek mythology was as a watchdog for the underworld. He was also a faithful servant to Hades, who was the god of the underworld. Cerberus is most often depicted moving along the banks of the river Styx. This river was the established boundary between the dead of the underworld and the living of the earth. Cerberus was responsible for guarding the gates to the underworld. The three-headed dog prevented those were dead from escaping, as well as kept the living from going there without the permission of Hades. Cerberus was very kinds and friendly to the dead, as well as any new spirits who entered the underworld. He would also become savage and would eat any of them who tried to get past him and go back to the land of the living.
Cerberus And Heracles
Heracles was sent by Euripides, who was the king of Tiryns, to capture Cerberus from the king of the underworld. He wanted the three-headed dog brought back.
This is known as the twelfth and final labor of Heracles. The reason this was requested of Heracles by Euripides is that it was believed to be impossible. This is the main reason Heracles wanted to do it. During this task, Heracles had help from the guide of the underworld known as Hermes as well as the goddess Athena.
Capture Of Cerberus
There are a variety of accounts covering how Heracles captured Cerberus. Hades was the god of the underworld. In the most popular account, Heracles was told by Hades he could have Cerberus if he defeated the animal using only the weapons he carried with him.
In this version, Heracles uses his lion-skin shield to protect himself from two of the dog’s heads as he chokes the third one. Cerberus then submits to Heracles. According to this myth, Hades still opposed Heracles taking Cerberus, so he shot Hades with a stone point arrow. In another account, Heracles does battle with Hades and wins.
Freedom Of Cerberus
There are a few accounts covering what happened when Heracles brought Cerberus back from the underworld. Some say that Heracles paraded the three-headed dog through Greece. It is said that women and children looked at Cerberus with fear and amazement. Other accounts say that Heracles exhibited Cerberus and was met by crowds who gave him a laurel wreath and sang songs about him.
Some believe after a period of time Cerberus was taken back to the underworld by Heracles. Others claim that Cerberus escaped and returned to the underworld on his own.
Cerberus In Literature
Cerberus is featured in many different types of literature. In the book “Dante’s Inferno,” Cerberus is mentioned as guarding the third circle of hell. Homer’s Iliad makes reference to the labors of Heracles. There are a number of Roman works of literature where Cerberus is mentioned. In Norse mythology, there is a dog that is similar to Cerberus and is known as Garm.
In Egypt, the dog that guards the tombs of the pharaohs, and guides the souls to the underworld is known as Anubis. Cerberus is also mentioned in popular culture. In the book and film “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone” there is a three-headed dog known as Fluffy. It can be made to go to sleep with the sound of a flute.
The capture of Cerberus by Heracles is a common theme in ancient Roman as well as Greek art. This theme was first seen on artwork at the beginning of the sixth century BC on a Laconian cup.
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