In ancient Greek mythology, there exists a three headed dog called Cerberus that guards the entrance to Hades, a misty and gloomy underworld in which spirits of the dead are permitted to enter but none are allowed to leave.
In the ancient world, dogs were often depicted as wild animals that defied domestication, roamed the streets in packs and scavenged on the edge of town. The mythical Cerberus incorporated not only the feared qualities of the ancient canine, but was a strange mixture of several creatures in one and a nightmarish sight to behold.
The name Cerberus comes from the Greek “Kerberos” meaning “spotted.” To the Greeks, Cerberus was a monstrous three-headed dog, or “hellhound” with a serpent’s tail, a mane of snakes, and a lion’s claws.
His three heads were thought to represent the past, the present, and the future while other sources suggest they were symbolic of birth, youth, and old age. The most potent ability of Cerberus was his look, which was so dreadful that anyone who looked upon him was immediately turned into stone. It was said that Cerberus had razor sharp teeth and a poisonous bite. The poison that drips onto the ground sprung up as a plant that is known as the wolf’s bane.
The father of Cerberus was Typhon, the mightiest and deadliest monster in Greek mythology (as well as a god). A huge fire breathing dragon said to have glowing red eyes, a hundred heads and a hundred wings, the Olympian gods were terrified of him. Everywhere Typhon went, he spread fear and disaster with his mission being to destroy the world and to put obstacles for Zeus along his path to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Cerberus’ mother, was Echidna, a half-woman, half-snake creature known as the “mother of all monsters”. Had black eyes, the head and torso of a beautiful woman and the lower body of a serpent. In a cave is where she dwelt luring men in with her body before she ate them raw.
Cerberus primary role was the watchdog of the Greek underworld and faithful servant to the god Hades. His main haunt was along banks of the river Styx, a river forming the boundary between Earth and the Underworld.
He guarded the gates of Hades and prevented the dead from escaping and the living from entering without his master’s permission. Chained to the entrance gates of Acheron, another river of the Underworld, Cerberus fawned on the dead or new spirits as they entered, but would savagely eat anyone trying to pass back through the gates and return to the land of the living.
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