Cerberus: The Guardian of the Greek Underworld

08/03/2021

     Cerberus was, in Greek Mythology, a terrible three-headed dog belonging to Hades and whose function was to garrison the Underworld. Check out.


Cerberus in Greek Mythology:

     Cerberus, in Greek Mythology, was a monstrous three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld, the subterranean realm of the dead, letting souls in, but never leaving and shattering the mortals who were there. ventured.

     According to Hesiod, Cerberus was the son of Typhon and Echidna, brother of Ortros, Chimera and the Hydra of Lerna. Pseudo-Apollodoro includes Ladão, the Dragon of Hesperides, Ethon, the Eagle of the Caucasus, the Sphinx and Beech, the Nut of Chromion, as children of Typhon and Echidna and brothers of Cerberus, and includes the Lion of Nemea as the son of Typhon. Higino already includes Górgon Aix, the Dragon of Cólquida and Cila as children of Typhon and Echidna.

Cerberus variations:

     The description of Cerberus morphology is not always the same, with variations. But one thing that is present in all sources is that Cerberus was a dog that guarded the doors of Tartarus, not preventing entry but leaving. When someone arrived, Cerberus party party, it was a lovely creation. But when the person wanted to leave, he stopped them; becoming a fierce dog and feared by everyone. The only ones who managed to get through Cerberus leaving the underworld alive were Hercules, Orpheus, Aeneas, Psyche and Ulysses.

     Cerberus was a dog with several heads, one does not have a certain number, but most of the time it is described as tricéfalo (three heads). Its tail is also not always appropriated in the same way, sometimes like the dragon, like a snake or even a dog. Sometimes, along with his head, fire-breathing snakes are found emerging from his neck, and even from his trunk.

     As for life after death, the Greeks believed that the abode of the dead was the Kingdom of Hades, the god of the underworld, alongside Persephone (Goddess of spring, daughter of Zeus and Demeter). Hades was Zeus's brother. It was located underground, surrounded by rivers, which can only be crossed by the dead. The dead preserved their human form, but had no body, could not be touched. The dead roamed Hades, but they also appeared at the burial site.

     There were careful rituals at burials, and the dead were worshiped, mainly by families in their homes. When the men died, they were transported, on the Charon barge, to the other side of the Aqueron river, where it was located at the entrance to the kingdom of Hades. The access was through a diamond door next to which Cerberus stood guard. To calm Cerberus' fury, the dead who lived in the underworld threw him a cake of flour and honey that his internal loved ones included in the tomb.

     His name, Cerberus, comes from the word Kroboros, which means meat eater. Cerberus ate people. An example of this in mythology is Pirítoo, who for trying to seduce Persephone, was given to the dog. As a punishment Cerberus ate the body of the condemned. Cerberus, when he went to sleep, has his eyes open, however, when he has his eyes closed, he is awake.


Cerberus and Hercules:

     Euristeu, knowing that Hercules (Heracles) would only stay another year under his orders, was desperate with fear and, for his twelfth job, ordered him to go down to the kingdom of Hades and bring back the three-headed dog, Cerberus, who guarded the gates of hell. This, he was sure, was above his curtains; and Heracles himself was doubting whether he would be able to accomplish this reckless and dangerous feat. He offered great sacrifices to the gods, asking for their protection; his prayers were heard.

     The goddess Athena, and Hermes, dissipate him, accompanying him to the shadowy cave, through the long, dark tunnel that led to the gates of the underworld. Upon realizing them, Cerberus 'three heads began to howl in a horrible manner, which caught Hades' attention; but when he saw a god and a goddess in the company of Heracles, he asked them what they were looking for.



"My lord Euristeu ordered me to take the three-headed dog Cerberus that guards this door to earth," said Heracles, and it is by the will of Zeus, lord of earth and heaven, that I obey him. Let me take your watchdog so I can carry out the orders I received. I promise you that Cerberus will suffer nothing and be restored, safe and sound.


Hades frowned and replied:

- If you are able to carry Cerberus on your shoulders without hurting him, then share him with your lord Euristeu; but, promise to bring him back, unscathed.


     Then Heracles approached Cerberus and, in spite of his three enormous mouths manned with sharp and cruel teeth, he lifted the animal on his shoulders and climbed up the path that led from the dark cave in daylight. The road was long, rough and steep, and its load was heavy; the three heads growled and bit, all the way, but Heracles, concentrating on the thought of the next deliverance, paid no attention to them. After all, he arrived at Mycenae. Euristeu was so terrified when he heard that Heracles carried the terrible three-headed dog on his shoulders, who hid under the bronze tub, sending him a message in the command that he was away from Mycenae for ever. Then, with a light heart, Heracles went to the cave. He went down the long tunnel and deposited Cerberus at the gates of hell.

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