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Cerberus

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Name:
Cerberus
Killed By:
N/A
Species:
Separate Species
Parents:
Ekhidna (Mother) and Typhon (Father)
Siblings:
Hydra, Chimaera, and Ladon

Cerberus (Ancient Greek: Κέρβερος), often called the "hound of Hades", is a monstrous multi-headed dog (usually three), who guards the gates of the underworld, preventing the dead from leaving. He was the offspring of the monsters Echidna and Typhon, and is usually described as having three heads, a serpent for a tail, with snakes protruding from various parts of his body. Cerberus is primarily known for his capture by Heracles, one of Heracles' twelve labors.

Mythology

Honey-cakes and Music

Cerberus' job was to make sure the dead stay within the gates and the living stay away from them. Only a few heroes ever escaped Cerberus's guard. However, the Greeks did note in their myths that Cerberus was a fan of sweet things like honey cakes and music, and this became his undoing; the great musician Orpheus charmed it with his lyre, and both the beautiful maiden Psyche and the Trojan prince Aeneas were able to pacify Cerberus with a honey cake and thus continue their journey through the underworld.

Theseus and Pirithous

While in the underworld, Heracles met the heroes Theseus and Pirithous, where the two companions were being held prisoner by Hades for attempting to carry off Persephone, and, along with bringing back Cerberus, Heracles also managed (usually) to rescue Theseus, and in some versions Pirithous as well. According to Apollodorus, Heracles found Theseus and Pirithous near the gates of Hades, bound to the "Chair of Forgetfulness, to which they grew and were held fast by coils of serpents", and when they saw Heracles, "they stretched out their hands as if they should be raised from the dead by his might", and Heracles was able to free Theseus, but when he tried to raise up Pirithous, "the earth quaked and he let go."

War

When Typhon threatened the gods, Hades went into battle with Cerberus. Cerberus was afraid of his father, and did not want to fight him. Hades saw this, and fled to Egypt with the Olympians, save for Zeus.

Herakles

12th labour of Heracles - Project Gutenberg eText 19119

Athena, Hermes and Heracles, leading a three-headed Cerberus out of the underworld, as Persephone looks on. From a hydria (c. 550–500 BC) attributed to the Leagros Group (Louvre CA 2992).[24]

Capturing Cerberus without using any weapons or receiving any help was Herakles's final, twelfth labor he needed to complete. Heracles went into Hades with the help of Hestia, and went to the castle to which Hades resided. Heracles asked Hades if he could bring Cerberus to the surface, and Hades agreed. Cerberus charged at Heracles, but Heracles had such incredible strength, he lifted Cerberus and tossed him over his back, causing him to faint. Herakles dragged the unconscious dog to King Eurystheus. However, while outside of his palace, Cerberus awoke, which scared Eurystheus so much he jumped into a pithos. Herakles then returned Cerberus to Hades, and went back to the surface world.

Powers and Abilities

Cerberus' most potent ability is its looks: It has a mane of snakes, three heads, and a tail which was a living serpent. His looks could frighten many mortals and demigods. It is also very large, and ferocious, with sharp teeth that can slice flesh. In some accounts it was said that Cerberus had a poisonous bite. The poison that drips onto the ground sprung up as a plant that is known as a wolfsbane.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Each of Cerberus's heads represent something; the first, birth, the second, youth, the last, old age. It also represents birth, life, and death.
  • It sometimes is described with fifty heads or a thousand heads.
  • It sometimes is described with a mane of fire.
  • Cerberus appears as a boss in several games from the Castlevania series.
    • In the game Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, the character Shanoa uses magical glyphs to summon Cerberus' heads as weapons and defense. The Latin-named glyphs are Sinestro Custos (means "Left Guardian", the left head), Dextro Custos (means "Right Guardian", the right head) and Arma Custos (means "Guardian Armor", the body and middle head).
  • Cerberus was a fan of honey-cakes.
  • In the God of War game series, Cerberus appears not as one character, but as an monster species. There are however two of them who appears as mini-bosses in the series: the Mole Cerberus in God of War II and the Hades Cerberus Breeder in God of War III.

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