Cerebus: Three Headed Dog

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Cerberus the three-headed dog with a mane and tail full of snakes, also known as Kerberos, was believed to be the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, this relation makes Cerberus’ relatives, the Sphinx, Hydra, and Chimera. Cerberus’ brother Orpheus is a monstrous two-headed dog and Cerberus’ Egyptian counterpart, Anubis, is the Egyptian dog that guarded the tombs and guided the souls to the underworld. In Norse Mythology, Garm, another monstrous dog is guarding the house of the dead. Cerberus was Hades guard dog who’s duty was to keep mortals from entering the underworld and the souls of the underworld remained there and not letting them return to ‘upperworld’ and wreck havoc upon it, (as the quote from Statius, “Neither the ferryman nor the comrade of the cruel beast bars the way to innocent souls.”)

Cerberus had three monstrous heads, one of a wolf, lion, and dog. The snakes on his mane contributed to the false head counts, 50 from Hesiod, and 100 from Horace, however these snakes possessed the power to turn any mortal who gazed upon them to stone (similar to the gorgon, Medusa) Cerberus spit/drool also had the ability to spawn the poisonous plant, wolfs bane.

This three-headed monster had flaws; Cerberus could be lulled to sleep. After gaining passage across the Styx by charming Kharon, Orpheus played a majestic tune that allowed him to slip past the Guardian. Similarly Hermes put the great dog to sleep by using the water of River Lethe (a drop can put you into a cleansing state…memory loss). However, not all attempts to get past Cerberus were a subconscious presence, Hercules’s final labor was to capture Cerberus and bring him back to the city of Mycenae, Hercules accomplished this by playing with the dog, as Hades never had, gaining Cerberus’s playful trust. When he returned with Cerberus to the palace of Eurystheus, he was so afraid of Cerberus that he jumped into a large jar to hide.

Throughout the time of reading the stories that mythology holds,...
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