Underworld Cerberus, Guardian of Hell

Underworld Cerberus, Guardian of Hell

In Greek mythology, the Underworld Cerberus is a multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld. Its main task is to prevent the souls of the dead from leaving the realm of the dead. Cerberus became famous through one of Heracle’s twelve tasks. The descriptions of the Cerberus vary, including the number of its heads. However, the most common one portrays him as a three-headed beast.

In the earliest description of it, the Cerberus had fifty heads, while Pindar gave him one hundred. In later texts, the Cerberus only has three heads. In art, most commonly, the Cerberus only has two dog heads and never more. Sometimes he has only one head, this also being the case of the earliest depiction of this creature. Homer was one of the first people that talked about the Cerberus, but he did not give it a name. He simply referred to it as “the dog”. Late poets gave him the name Kerberos and described him as a three-headed beast.

The ancient Greeks believed that a person’s soul went to the Underworld after their death to dwell there for all eternity. The Underworld is Hades’ domain as well as his wife’s, Persephone. Depending on how a person lived their life, they may or may not experience punishment in Hades. However, no matter if they were good or bad, the souls all went to Hades.

Underworld Cerberus, Guardian of HellUnderworld Cerberus

In Greek Mythology, Heracle was given twelve labors by King Eurystheus. The last task was to capture the three-headed dog without using any weapons. Heracle, aided by various gods learned how to enter the Underworld. There, he asked for Hades’ permission to take Cerberus to the surface with him. Hades agreed, with the condition that Heracle not use any weapons. In the end, Heracle managed to overpower the dog and brought him to Eurystheus.

After completing his tasks, Heracles returned the Cerberus to the Underworld, which leads us to believe that he did not injure it.



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